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The Meaning of “Austerity”

Corbett Report [1]
Tuesday, June 22, 2010

“Austerity” is one of those Orwellian terms that has been injected into our political discourse precisely because it is a nice-sounding word for a very painful reality. “Austerity” implies discipline, self-restraint, even nobility. “Austerity” is prudent. “Austerity” is modest. “Austerity” is a virtue. It is an end in itself.

If the IMF or the European Central Bank come to the people of a collapsing European nation and tell them to sacrifice their pensions and their savings and their very standard of living all for a debt that their government has fraudulently racked up in their name, no one would go for it, and rightly so.

But tell those same people that they need to implement “austerity measures” in order to “get back on their feet” economically, and many will be willing to live in the harshest of conditions, content to put up with the dismantling of their nation itself in the vain hope that by giving more power to the international financial institutions they can somehow avoid economic collapse.