Austerity is easily said, abstract enough to divert attention from cuts in budgets and repeated often enough to make it sort of an “self-evident” undisputed truth – something to follow without thinking or demand from others like a divine commandment: If you have not enough money, cut spending till the books are right again. True often in a single person household, maybe fatal in a state consisting of dozens of millions of households and enterprises in a global economy. An idea which may sprung out of an Austin Powers movie,…more wishful thinking or show than effective counter-measure. More oysters for everybody – no, lets cut oysters and THAT will solve our problems of not investing in our future properly. Maybe we should quit eating entirely to save some money? If a state is trying to save money, putting out the black 0 as the golden calf to worship investors it might rather look like an out-of-the-box Berlin startup copying its logic. But states are entirely different beasts by nature, very different from startups – most are successfully “in business” for more than 50 years. A corporate logic may be toxic to its purpose as a state: providing the framework to live and making business and infrastructure secure – not competing with the economy,…but enabling it.
Austerity as stubborn belief is not eradicated easily: the only salvation being envisioned is to stop investments by the state. In the Reagan era this was called “starving the beast” – to impose financial starvation on the state so that cuts in the budget seem to be unavoidable. The true aim is usually left out of the picture for the public: its about grooming the interests of investors like some immature business-venture ideas do – trying to do all well on paper, but then neglecting the product to be built. From there also grew the deceiving belief that There Is No Alternative – daily greets TINA, reminding of the vicious cycle Bill Murray encountered in “Groundhog Day”. There is always an alternative, dear TINA.
German public (brutto) investments in education e.g. sank from 6,7 to 5,6 bn EUR in the span of 4 years (2010-2014). Worse, the communal (netto) investments shrank each year for 7-8 Bio EUR since 2008*, which has also repercussions for education. What kind of “trust” in investors are you wooing, prosperous German state, if you are loosing the trust of people who rely on you maintaining the basic infrastructure and gambling with the opportunities of the next generation and their future?
More oysters, please – for us and our kids, yes,…globally. Anybody who would feel enraged by such a reckless middle-class demand, delusional and pretentious may make the accounting himself how many oysters there can be served by roughly 2000 bn EUR financial bail-out without a democratic vote from taxpayer´s money in the last 7 years…or what this money would do invested in sectors that really matter – and do work without fraud.
(*Hans Ganßmann, “Dumm gespart”, Le Monde Diplomatique, Dec 2015, p. 3)