Being “against austerity” is nonsense

I was linked in to a graph at the weekend showing another version of a point I have made for a long time on this blog. The graph noted that UK GDP is 16% lower than it would have been if 1990-2008 growth rates had been maintained during the 2008-13 period.

It reminded me of a phrase I see frequently – people claiming to be “against austerity”. This is nonsense to start with – all successful countries are austere; one man’s austerity is another man’s efficiency, after all. It is particularly ludicrous for those on the “left” to oppose austerity – the opposite of austerity is rampant consumerism inevitably dominated by a few big multi-nationals. Austerity is a good thing – indeed, it is absolutely necessary if we aspire to live in a country where people prioritise the interests of society as a whole and not just the crazed individualism which has seen the English-speaking world become ever more selfish, ever more unequal and ever more bust. You’d think those on the “left” would care about this, but apparently we should not seek to be austere and should just continue spending stacks of money we don’t have and never earned on things no one needs and few really want…

As it happens, austerity is also necessary when it turns out you are 16% worse off than you thought – for that is what the above figure really means. It is not our current economic position which is false; the false one was the 2008 one fuelled (particularly in the British Isles) by a mad property binge which was obviously unsustainable at the time only no one thought to admit it.

So you can’t be “against austerity” any more than you can be against the grass being green. It is time we stopped this completely false argument otherwise.

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4 thoughts on “Being “against austerity” is nonsense

  1. L.B. says:

    This raises an interesting view for me, thanks. I agree somewhat — in my house, we try to avoid frivolous spending. However I would say there is a difference between frugality and austerity, the latter being somewhat extreme.

  2. To comment on my own piece, it is interesting how many people have read the above as referring solely to governments, as opposed to society as a whole.

    As noted in the piece, successful *societies* are austere. I wrote more about that here: https://ianjamesparsley.wordpress.com/2014/07/17/real-german-lesson-say-yes-to-austerity/

  3. […] is a word which has come to be much abused, because the seeds of that financial crisis were that we had become greedy in the Western World […]

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