Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Editorials: Where I rant to the wall about politics. And sometimes the wall rants back.

Austerity is not the only answer

Jerry Stratton, May 2, 2013

Austerity in Europe is a lot like electricity privatization in California. If you redefine privatization to mean “a lot more government control”, it turns out privatization fails. And if you redefine austerity to mean “raise taxes and continue government bloat” it turns out austerity fails as well.

After seeing so much about “austerity failing” and then reading in to find out that by “austerity” they meant “raise lots of taxes”, I was moderately interested to see what the Financial Times considered to be alternatives to austerity. Maybe cut taxes and cut government bloat?

But I didn’t read it, because austerity, to me, means being thrifty with where I put my contact info, and the Financial Times is behind a paywall.

Interestingly, the “Annual” button shows a weekly price; and the monthly price is more expensive than the weekly price even times five. Which is nothing against the Financial Times, but since this is the first time I’ve seen this paywall screen I’m guessing I have no need for the Financial Times. Certainly not a $325 per year need. So, austerity has already saved me $325 this year alone! If I visit more of these paywalls, I can really rack up the savings. I should go buy something for a few grand with that money. Maybe a nice new car.

See, when you define success without regard to reality, you can fail in amazingly spectacular ways.

Meanwhile, those places that use the alternative to austerity of reducing taxes and spending see growth.

You can see part of the problem with the “raise taxes” form of “austerity” in the other tab I had open: there’s a meme running around the net right now that 401(k)s are bad, that most people are too stupid for them, and that government should step in. Why are 401(k)s bad? Because they’re honest. A 401(k) is a defined contribution plan; you have in it what you contribute to it. The contrast to 401(k)s in these articles is always social security: a defined benefit plan that’s going bust because it’s a lie. It doesn’t have in it what we contributed to it. The same with other government pensions: they lie about benefits, but the lies are all coming due.

Those fully-funded 401(k)s must look awfully tempting to politicians who can’t understand austerity to mean anything except raising taxes.

In response to Beware the Austerity of the Politician: Austerity, to politicians, doesn’t mean what you think it means.

  1. <- Drunken austerity
  2. Austerity’s failure ->