Stewart Acuff

Feb 25

Austerity – By Any Other Name

Austerity by any other name is still austerity.

Austerity has bound much of Europe in its iron-fisted grasp. The working families of Greece are suffering grievously losing jobs, social benefits, family savings and wealth, but fighting back as best they can in the streets.

When I was in Britain the fear and the talk was all about losing the National Health Service. The Conservative Government has already contracted out some functions to private vendors. 20,000 British workers turned out to protest the closing of ONE local hospital. Spain is facing austerity measures. Much of the demands for austerity come from the conservative leaders of Germany.

Only an NDP (New Democratic Party) victory in Canada will prevent austerity measures in that country. One of the reasons I am so excited about the elections this spring in Canada is that the Canadian people can stop the austerity train rolling around the world.

In the USA we don’t call austerity, austerity. In America, austerity goes by other names. Right now the threat is sequestration, a self-imposed crisis that will force huge indiscriminate cuts across the federal budget if radical rightwing Republicans continue to refuse to bargain with President Obama about a balanced plan that will raise revenues and not force us into a deeper economic crisis. At this point words like recession and depression have lost their meaning for average Americans. Though the economists deny it we still suffer the recession-depression left us by Bush and his buds on Wall St. And that same crowd still demand that average Americans pay for their monumental greed and childish recklessness.

In America we also call it “Fix the Debt,” the growing demand by the 1% and their servants that the government agree to cuts in Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

It is awful enough that these potential cuts would be forced on folks who cannot afford them and who have been paying for these benefits all their lives, but hurting our elders in this way, the Democratic Party would surely be snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Radical rightwing Republicans have been totally discredited. They have no message and no vision other than attacking Americans Democrats.

Polling dramatically shows how Americans are sick of radical rightwing Republicans. We need to fight like hell against more iron-fisted austerity measures in our country.


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Stewart Acuff is the former organizing Director of the AFL-CIO. Acuff has also written two books: Playing Bigger Than You Are: A Life in Organizing, and Getting America Back to Work.

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