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A Progressive Alternative to Austerity


Passing steeper taxes on the rich isn’t as hard as you’d think.

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BY FRED GLASS

Demographic changes favoring a clear progressive message, coupled with the Occupy movement’s lasting insight that the 1 percent are robbing the rest of us blind, provide the opening to beat back the core conservative idea: that the problem is government and society should seek help from the wisdom of the rich.

“There is no alternative to austerity,” insist the rich, along with their politicians, foundations, think tanks and media.

They’ve been saying it for decades, along with, “taxes are bad,” “government doesn’t work” and “public employees are greedy.”

Consequently, common wisdom had it that “you can’t raise taxes.” Even people who should have known better believed this, while the public sector slid down the tubes.

So how did Proposition 30 succeed? This measure, passed by California voters last November, raises $6 billion a year for schools and services—and in a supposedly “anti-tax” state. The money comes mostly through an income tax hike on rich people, along with a tiny sales tax increase of 0.25 percent.

The story should be better known, because with the right preparation, you could make it happen in your state, too.

Testing the waters

Shortly after Democrat Jerry Brown was elected governor in November 2010, the California Federation of Teachers (CFT) pulled together labor and community groups to craft a ballot measure to raise the revenue needed to keep schools and services afloat. (Full disclosure: I am the CFT’s communications director.)

For two years we had been laying the groundwork for a progressive tax: creating educational materials, publishing opinion pieces, holding training sessions with our members and other unionists, and talking with potential coalition partners.

We funded polls and focus groups, testing how likely various types of taxes would be to gain a majority.

Regressive taxes—like sales taxes and across-the-board income tax hikes—were viewed unfavorably. By spring 2011, people felt ordinary folks had already sacrificed enough, in the worst recession since the 1930s.

The public believed, however, that the rich and large corporations needed to pay their fair share for the common good. They were quite willing to vote for higher taxes on the rich.

As we refined our research, we decided on three principles: bring in the most revenue possible; draw it from those who could most afford to pay; and have the best chance of winning. We arrived at a Millionaires Tax: people who made a million dollars a year would pay an extra 3 percent, and people making $2 million an extra 5 percent, raising $5 billion a year.

Unfortunately, Governor Brown had his own proposal that didn’t follow those principles—it included both a half-cent sales tax hike and an across-the-board income tax increase. People were out gathering signatures for Brown’s initiative, our Millionaires Tax, and a third tax measure sponsored by a wealthy liberal attorney.

The Millionaires Tax ran ahead of the other measures in five straight polls.

In early March 2012, the CFT helped organize a march in the capital against budget cuts and college tuition increases. Thousands of students, faculty, and others paraded Millionaires Tax signs outside the governor’s window.

Two days later, responding to the governor’s charge that three competing measures would all lose, we released the results of a poll testing that idea. It found the others would get less than 50 percent, and the Millionaires Tax would win handily.

At that point the governor called in CFT President Joshua Pechthalt to talk. We compromised and combined the two proposals into Prop 30. The new measure raised the top tax rates on income of $250,000 by 1 percent, on $300,000 by 2 percent, and on $500,000 by 3 percent. We had wanted a permanent tax; Brown’s was for five years. The compromise extended that to seven.

We knew the sales tax was a poison pill and we requested that Brown drop it entirely, but he explained that, to keep the Chamber of Commerce neutral, he had promised not to “demonize the rich,” meaning there had to be a “shared sacrifice” component. He did agree to reduce it to a quarter cent.

Sales tax confusion

Our research was validated during the campaign—people don’t like regressive taxes like the sales tax. Millions of dollars in opposition ads did their best to confuse the voters, calling Prop 30 “a massive tax increase on everyone.”

CFT’s coalition, Reclaiming California’s Future, included the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (which emerged after ACORN’s demise), the Courage Campaign and California Calls, a coalition of community groups dedicated to reforming the tax system through voter education and expanding the electorate.

Our coalition emphasized the “tax the rich” message in our literature, public events and door-to-door canvassing, but we were only part of a much broader Prop 30 coalition. The official campaign’s TV ads included asking the wealthy to pay their fair share, but as one message buried among others.

The polling numbers gradually sank to a bare 50 percent. One poll, three weeks before the election, had Yes on Prop 30 at just 48 percent, while the Nos had crept up to 44 percent.

The governor campaigned mostly on the idea that Prop 30 would save education from further cuts, but threw in “shared sacrifice” and “paying down the state’s wall of debt” in his public pronouncements.

We agreed with the education message, disagreed with the others, and insisted on a strong emphasis on taxing the rich. We stressed to the governor that, in order to neutralize the opposition’s ads, the public had to understand what services the tax paid for, who it taxed, and by how much.

In the final weeks, as the governor worked with CFT and other allies in rallies and media appearances, his message became clearer and more consistent: Prop 30 would stop cuts to schools and was fair, because, he said (drawing on his Jesuit background and citing St. Luke), it asked “those who are blessed with the most wealth to give back a little bit so everyone could benefit.”

Ninety percent of Prop 30’s revenues would come from taxing the wealthy; and the quarter-cent sales tax, he said, amounted to a “mere penny on a $4 sandwich.”

Reshaping debate

On Election Day, Prop 30 won 55 percent to 45 percent, reshaping the decades-old understanding of California as an “anti-tax” state. It is the single largest progressive tax passed in the state since World War II, both in the amount of revenue raised and as a percent bump on the income taxes of the wealthy.

What are some lessons from this tremendous victory?

If the word can be gotten out effectively, the electorate is ready to pass progressive taxes to pay for common needs like schools and services.

Demographic changes favoring a clear progressive message, coupled with the Occupy movement’s lasting insight that the 1 percent are robbing the rest of us blind, provide the opening to beat back the core conservative idea: that the problem is government and society should seek help from the wisdom of the rich.

Prop 30’s message was that public education is the foundation of a decent society and we can restore that promise if the rich pay their fair share of taxes.

The anti-Prop 30 messages were the same as always—government can’t do anything right; the rich will leave California if we tax them; taxes are too high; if we remove the waste, fraud, and abuse in government there will be plenty of money for schools.

But these ideas, so effective in the past, had lost their potency, because, especially post-Occupy, the public understands that economic inequality is growing.

Spending tens of millions of dollars didn’t work for the rich this time. In fact, it backfired—they proved our point. We didn’t have to “demonize” the rich; they did it themselves.

Another key, of course, was the old-fashioned work of reaching out to core constituencies. The Reclaiming coalition was crucial, along with a ground campaign by the broader labor movement, which was heavily mobilized to fight an anti-union measure on the ballot (which lost).

Volunteers and staff spent countless hours knocking on doors, phonebanking, rallying, educating. We reached out systematically to less-likely voters—young people, college students, immigrants, lower-income communities of color—and convinced them to come out to vote for their own futures.

Credit for this orientation is due especially to California Calls, which has targeted less-likely voters and stayed in touch over several election cycles.

This year California has begun to restore funds for public education for the first time in years. There is an alternative to austerity; its name is “progressive taxes.”

Reprinted with permission from Labor Notes.

ABOUT THIS AUTHOR

Fred Glass is communications director for the California Federation of Teachers

via A Progressive Alternative to Austerity – In These Times.

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Austerity And Resistance: The Politics Of Labour In The Eurozone Crisis


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Europe is haunted by austerity. Public sectors across the European Union (EU) have been cut back and working class gains from the post-war period seriously undermined. In this article, I will assess the causes of the crisis, its implications for workers and discuss the politics of labour in response to the Eurozone crisis.

The underlying dynamics of the Eurozone crisis

Current problems go right back to the global financial crisis starting in 2007 with the run on the Northern Rock bank in the United Kingdom (UK) and reaching a first high point with the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers in 2008. Two major consequences of the crisis can be identified. First, states indebted themselves significantly as a result of bailing out failing banks and propping up the financial system. Second, against the background of high levels of uncertainty financial markets froze. Banks and financial institutions ceased lending to each other as well as industrial companies. Countries too found it increasingly difficult to re-finance their national debts. The Eurozone crisis, also known as the sovereign debt crisis, commenced.

Nevertheless, this analysis only scratches the surface of the causes of the crisis. The fundamental dynamics underlying the crisis have to be related to the uneven nature of the European political economy. On the one hand, Germany has experienced an export boom in recent years, with almost 60 per cent of its exports going to other European countries (Trading Economics, 10 May 2013). Germany’s trade surplus is even more heavily focused on Europe. 60 per cent are with other Euro countries and about 85 per cent are with all EU members together (de Nardis, 2 December 2010). However, such a growth strategy cannot be adopted by everybody. Some countries also have to absorb these exports, and this is what many of the peripheral countries which are now in trouble, such as Greece, Portugal, Spain and Ireland, have done. They, in turn, cannot compete in the free trade Internal Market of the EU due to lower productivity rates. Germany’s export boom has resulted in super profits, which then require new opportunities for profitable investment. State bonds of peripheral countries as well as construction markets in Ireland and Spain seemed to provide safe investment opportunities. In turn, these investments led to yet more exports from Germany to these countries and yet further super profits in search of investment opportunities.

Who is being rescued?

It is often argued in the media that citizens of richer countries would now have to pay for citizens of indebted countries. Cultural arguments of apparently ‘lazy Greek’ workers as the cause of the crisis are put forward. Nevertheless, this is clearly not the case. Greek workers are amongst those who work the longest hours in Europe (BBC, 26 February 2012). In any case, it is not the Greek, Portuguese, Irish or Cypriot citizens and their health and education systems, which are being rescued. It is banks, who organised the lending of super profits to peripheral countries, which are exposed to private and national debt in these countries. For example, German and French banks are heavily exposed to Greek debt, British banks to Irish debt (The Guardian, 17 June 2011).

What is the purpose of the bailout programmes?

Is the purpose of the bailout programmes to ensure the maintenance of essential public services in Europe’s periphery? Clearly not. On the contrary, the Troika consisting of the European Commission, European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) demands cuts in public finances precisely for services such as education and health care. Is the purpose to assist peripheral countries in re-gaining competitiveness? Again, this too is clearly not the objective. The bailout programmes do not include any industrial policy projects.

The true nature of the bailout programmes is visible in their conditionality, making support dependent on austerity policies including: (1) cuts in funding of essential public services; (2) cuts in public sector employment; (3) push towards privatisation of state assets; and (4) undermining of industrial relations and trade union rights through enforced cuts in minimum wages and a further liberalisation of labour markets. Hence, the real purpose of the bailout programmes is to restructure political economies and to open up the public sector as new investment opportunities for private finance. The balance of power is shifted further from labour to capital in this process. Employers, ultimately, use the crisis in order to strengthen their position vis-à-vis workers, facilitating exploitation.

Are German workers the winners due to the export boom?

In contrast to general assumptions, German workers have not benefitted from the current situation. German productivity increases have, to a significant extent, resulted from drastic downward pressure on wages and working related conditions.

“Germany has been unrelenting in squeezing its own workers throughout this period. During the last two decades, the most powerful economy of the eurozone has produced the lowest increases in nominal labour costs, while its workers have systematically lost share of output. EMU[2] has been an ordeal for German workers” (Lapavitsas et al, 2012: 4).

The Agenda 2010 and here especially the so-called Hartz IV reform, implemented in the early 2000s, constitutes the largest cut in, and restructuring of, the German welfare system since the end of World War II. In other words, Germany was more successful than other Eurozone countries in cutting back labour costs. “The euro is a ‘beggar-thy-neighbour’ policy for Germany, on condition that it beggars its own workers first” (Lapavitsas et al, 2012: 30).

Hence, while the mainstream media regularly portray the crisis as a conflict between Germany and peripheral countries, the real conflict here is between capital and labour. And this conflict is taking place across the EU as the economic crisis is used across Europe to justify cuts. In the UK, although not in the position of countries such as Greece, Portugal or Ireland, people too are faced with constant further cuts and restructuring including privatisations in the health and education sectors as well as attacks on employment rights. In short, across the EU, employers abuse the crisis to cut back workers’ post-war gains. The crisis provides capital with the rationale to justify cuts, they would otherwise be unable to implement.

What possibilities for labour to resist restructuring?

Considering that austerity is a European-wide phenomenon, pushed by Brussels but equally individual national governments, it will remain important that trade unions combine resistance to neo-liberal restructuring at the European level with resistance at the national level. To declare solidarity with Greek workers is a good initiative by German and British unions, for example. Nevertheless, the more concrete support is resisting restructuring at home. Any defeat of austerity in one of the EU member states will assist similar struggles elsewhere.

When thinking about alternative responses to the crisis, short-term measures can be distinguished from medium- and long-term measures. Immediately, it will be important that German trade unions push for higher salary increases at home so that the German domestic market absorbs more goods, which are currently being exported. Along similar lines is the proposal by the Confederation of German Trade Unions (DGB) for an economic stimulus, investment and development programme for Europe. This new Marshall plan is designed as an investment and development programme over a 10-year period and consists of a mix of institutional measures, direct public sector investment, investment grants for companies and incentives for consumer spending (DGB 2013). Neo-Keynesian measures of this type will ease the immediate pressure on European economies. However, they will not question the power structures, underlying the European political economy.

A victorious outcome in the struggle against austerity ultimately depends on a change in the balance of power in society. The establishment of welfare states and fairer societies were based on the capacity of labour to balance the class power of capital (Wahl 2011). Overcoming austerity will, therefore, require a strengthening of labour vis-à-vis capital. As Lapavitsas notes, “a radical left strategy should offer a resolution of the crisis that alters the balance of social forces in favour of labour and pushes Europe in a socialist direction” (Lapavitsas 2011: 294). Hence, in the medium-term, it will be essential to intervene more directly in the financial sector. As part of bailouts, many private banks have been nationalised, as for example the Royal Bank of Scotland in the UK. However, they have been allowed to continue operating as if they were private banks. Little state direction has been imposed. It will be important to move beyond nationalisation towards the socialisation of banks to ensure that banks actually operate according to the needs of society. Such a step would contribute directly to changing the balance of power in society in favour of labour.

In the long run, however, even the change in power balance between capital and labour will not be enough. Capitalist exploitation is rooted in the way the social relations of production are set up around wage labour and the private ownership of the means of production. Exploitation, therefore, can only be overcome if the manner in which production is organised is being changed itself.

[1] This article was first published in Norwegian on radikalportal.no

[2] European Monetary Union

via Austerity And Resistance: The Politics Of Labour In The Eurozone Crisis.

The Negative Impact of Austerity on Public Health


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As the Greek government implemented austerity measures in response to a financial crisis, Greek suicide numbers doubled last year. And in London, tuberculosis rates grew by 8 percent from 2010 to 2011, a result of increased homelessness and drug use during the Great Recession. In “The Body Economic: Why Austerity Kills,” Oxford political economist David Stuckler and Sanjay Basu, an epidemiologist at Stanford University‘s Prevention Research Center, argue that austerity measures have public health consequences, including HIV outbreaks and increased rates of depression, suicide and heart attacks. The authors recently spoke with U.S. News about the relationship between fiscal policy and public health. Excerpts:

Why connect public health with austerity?

Basu: In the 1990s, there was an astounding series of studies that said, What if everybody had perfect health insurance? How many premature deaths in the U.S. among people less than 75 years of age could we prevent? And it turned out that the answer was only about 15 to 20 percent. The other 80 to 85 percent can’t be affected by medical care, meaning that health doesn’t start on the exam table in the ICU, but in our homes, in our neighborhoods, whether we smoke or drink too much, and the quality of our air, food and safety. One of the biggest determinants therein is the state of the economy and, in particular, whether we have safety nets during hard times.

How does austerity lead to a loss of life?

Stuckler: When effective services and supports that sustain health are withdrawn, they pose a direct risk. A clear example can be seen in Greece today. To meet the deficit reduction targets, the health sector in Greece has been cut by more than 40 percent. HIV infections have more than doubled as effective needle exchange program budgets were cut in half. There was a return of malaria after mosquito spraying programs to prevent the disease were also cut, covering the southern part of the country. Deep reductions of a pharmaceutical budget led several pharmaceutical companies to leave the country. There was subsequently a 50 percent increase in people reporting being unable to access medically necessary care.

What surprised you most in your research?

Basu: That there are some very well-researched, effective programs out there that can benefit both public health and the economy, but the academic research is so far afield from the public discourse. A lot of the discourse just assumes that the only way to reduce deficits is to cut budgets in the short term, and it’s quite hard to explain why that’s a bad idea and actually increases long-term budgets. That counterintuitive problem has created a lot of fallacies and makes it difficult to translate research into practice.

Do you expect to see public health consequences to spending cuts in the U.S.?

Basu: We already see them if we compare state-based responses to different kinds of unemployment crises since 2007. We can, controlling for pre-existing conditions, compare states that underwent more extensive budget cuts versus those that didn’t; and [we] saw a rise in suicide among those who were denied unemployment benefits.

Which current policies are most harmful to public health?

Basu: I think the indiscriminate cuts to safety net programs among the poor are particularly easy to implement and particularly dangerous for public health. [And] cuts to our nation’s best defense system against epidemics, the Centers for Disease Control [and Prevention] are particularly dangerous. We recently had the fungal meningitis outbreak, and without the CDC, it would’ve been hard to conceive of how we would’ve protected ourselves from having a dramatic expansion of that epidemic.

Are there any economic policies that don’t have daunting human costs?

Basu: In many areas of the world, we see pretty effective policies that simultaneously improve health and the economy. For example, in Sweden and Finland there are active labor market programs. They help enroll the newly unemployed into supportive job retraining and re-entry, and work with both firms and the newly unemployed. As a side effect, they seem to reduce suicide, depression and alcoholism, while also stimulating the economy and being, in some cases, net cost-saving.

Why should President Obama read your book?

Stuckler: The book shows that there is an alternative to austerity that’s grounded in evidence. And when governments pursue it, they can pave the way to a happier and healthier future for people. By making smart, evidence-based investments, not only is it possible to protect people’s most valuable asset – their health – but to chart faster economic recoveries and address fundamental threats of deficits and debt. A simple answer is because his choices and those of Congress are matters of life and death for millions of Americans.

via The Negative Impact of Austerity on Public Health – US News and World Report.

Why austerity theory is the economist’s atomic bomb


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ON August 6, 1945, America dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, instantly killing 70,000–80,000 people and injuring another 70,000. The atomic bomb changed the world. President Truman promised a ‘rain of ruin’ would fall on America’s enemies if they didn’t surrender.

The chief architect of the atomic bomb project was a physicist, Robert Oppenheimer. Mr Oppenheimer had mixed feelings about his project. Initially, he was delighted that it worked at all.

Looking back, this relief is understandable. This was a world war in which millions had already died. The US leaders were sure Germany, Japan and Russia were also working on a nuclear bomb, so there was intense pressure to get the job done.

But after the bombings, Mr Oppenheimer expressed regret that the bomb had been used, citing a passage from Hindu holy book the ‘Bhagavad Gita’: “Now I am become Death, the Destroyer of Worlds.”

Others involved in the making of the atomic bomb saw it as a problem to solve, a part of the war effort.

While they were saddened by the deaths of tens of thousands of civilians, the scientists were justified in trying to find the answer to the question put to them by the politicians and generals. Their research was, to some extent at least, independent of what the research was used for.

It’s not atomic physics, but economic theories have the potential to alter the lives of millions of people.

The wrong theory, implemented as policy, can reduce the living standards of millions of people over time, and harm the development of generations of workers and their families. Take Zimbabwe, for example, where a hyperinflation has destroyed the nation’s wealth.

Or go back in time to the Meiji Restoration in Japan in 1868 when Japan modernised, opened up to trade, and eventually militarised itself by 1905.

The openness policy championed by the Meiji dynasty led to a huge increase in living standards for the Japanese people, and, not incidentally, led to the militarisation that would one day help push the Japanese into confrontations with other world powers.

Economic theories are powerful things, to be used and misused. Those who write economic theory and do economic policy need to be aware of the consequences of what they are doing.

Read last year’s budget documents. You’ll find Appendix F on the web. Appendix F is a thoughtful, careful analysis of the distributional consequences of austerity policies on the Irish people, showing exactly who has been hit by these policies, and by how much.

But at least those in power in Ireland are aware of the consequences of their actions.

Not so for other proponents of austerity, where their research is of the ‘fire and forget’ type, divorced from the potential impact of their research.

Economists who help satisfy the consensus view are often feted, whether they are right or wrong, and when they are wrong, they walk away unscathed. There is nothing wrong with being wrong: things change, and no one is perfect.

But when you’re wrong – or worse, when your work is being misused – I believe there’s an imperative to shout stop.

Another example: economists Carmen Reinhart and Ken Rogoff wrote a celebrated paper showing increasing government deficits harms growth: a country was likely to stagnate once its government debt-to-national output ratio exceeded 90pc.

Their finding implied deficit spending was bad, and because this fed a conservative need to reduce government spending through austerity, Mr Rogoff and Ms Reinhart’s paper was instantly adopted as gospel by the serious people in dark suits for this reason.

The paper was recently torn apart under serious scrutiny, but from 2010 to 2013, Mr Rogoff and Ms Reinhart made no attempt to modify their analysis or to chasten those who tried to use it for different means. Compare the Rogoff and Reinhart debacle with a recent example from Sweden, where one researcher, Jonas Himmelstrand, argued early childhood programmes increased the chances of mental health problems later on.

He cited a series of studies in his work. The author of one of the main studies was very quick to point out there was no substance whatsoever behind Mr Himmelstrand’s statement that a decline of mental health in young people in Sweden was related to daycare.

Eventually, those promulgating the notion of austerity as the only answer are going to be asked the same questions asked of the scientists on the project that birthed the atomic bomb: are you okay with how people have used your research?

Austerity is forcing millions to suffer needlessly. As unemployment rises and political realities force this to become a serious constraint on policy, austerity policies will be ditched. What will we have then?

Dr Stephen Kinsella is a senior lecturer in economics at the University of Limerick

Irish Independent

via Why austerity theory is the economist’s atomic bomb – Independent.ie.

Austerity news from Around the Globe


 
 

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Austerity is a Four-Letter French Word

FXstreet.com
Austerity is a four-letter Anglo-Saxon – or even worse, Teutonic – word in socialist France, yet the market at some point is going to want to see a move toward sustainable budgets. Government bond investors are not philanthropists. They look for the …
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Austerity drains economic life

Yorkshire Post
THE latest statistics confirm that wages are increasing by well under the inflation rate, at the same time as benefits for those of working age are rising at just one per cent a year. So I’m not surprised that the economy is still struggling, as people 
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Scottish independence: ‘No’ vote austerity warning

Scotsman
But Labour leader Johann Lamont insisted that an independent Scotland would face even harsherausterity than the UK amid concerns that SNP “big business” tax breaks will see major job cuts. The leaders clashed today during the final First Ministers 
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Portugal: 5 million participated in general strike, say unions

 

Patience with the government’s austerity plan is running thin in Portugal with banners reading ‘Enough’ and ‘Government Out’. In their fourth general strike in two… read full article

 Austerity: ‘unprecedented erosion’ in living standards
The Guardian
If you thought you were feeling the pinch, here’s probably why. Rising prices, stagnant wages and benefit cuts are creating an “unprecedented erosion” in living standards, especially for low and middle income families, according to new research from 
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Stuff your austerity! We want something different

New Internationalist (blog)

The idea of the Peoples Assemblies is to create a mass national and local movement against austerity. Saturday’s event brought together people of all ages and walks of life – trade unionists, direct activists, students, pensioners, hackers, disabled …
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Social Justice Ireland says austerity not working

RTE.ie

“Austerity is not working for Ireland. Government has cut spending, raised taxes, increased unemployment, lowered wages, decimated services and allowed infrastructure to deteriorate on the understanding that austerity would lead to recovery …
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Austerity leaves bitter taste as Leinster House sweet shop shuts
Irish Times
It was the Taj Mahjal of the mint humbug, the Southfork of the chocolate snowball, the Buckingham Palace of the fruit pastille. The notorious Leinster House sweetie shop – that glass walled monument to the Celtic Tiger notions of a discredited …
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Miliband’s offer of austerity in a red rosette is failing voters
New Statesman
If austerity is wrong and counter-productive when the Tories do it, it will be wrong and counter-productive whoever does it. Austerity in a red rosette is no less brutal and damaging than in a blue one. In failing to articulate a clear economic …
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Portuguese businesses attack austerity, urge U turn
GlobalPost
Portuguese business leaders launched on Monday a strong attack on austerity conditions tied to the EU-IMF bailout of the economy, saying that they had failed and the government should change direction to save the country from “recession”.
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Union warns austerity will spur growth of ‘zero hours’ contracts
Financial Times
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Austerity will spur the use of zero hours contracts, as more public sector work is outsourced to providers who rely on the ultimate flexible employment option, a think tank and union have said. The contracts, which offer no guaranteed work, are being …
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Discredited Pro-Austerity Research Gets New Love From World’s Central Bank
Huffington Post
Our world’s troubling austerity deficit is actually not the main message of the BIS’ 76-page opus, but an entire chapter, “Fiscal sustainability: Where do we stand?” is dedicated to the topic. And this chapter sounds a rallying cry for more austerity …
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Austerity Loses in Massachusetts
The Nation.
Gomez ran as a classic proponent of austerity. He proposed to balance budgets on the backs of working families and retirees. The Republican nominee supported raising the retirement age for Social Security benefits for future retirees and he wanted to …
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France’s Austerity Drive Pushes Country into Recession
IBTimes.co.uk
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France’s drive to slash spending and debt by implementing strict austerity measures has pushed the country into recession, confirmed the government’s statistics office. In the first quarter of 2013, French gross domestic product (GDP) in volume …
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Lying about austerity serves “special interests”
People’s World
A few weeks ago, the most prestigious apologists for austerity in the economics profession, Ken Rogoff and Carmen Reinhart of Harvard University – now known as R & R – were brought up short when a blatant spreadsheet error in their published work …
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‘Greece to avoid more austerity’
Independent Online
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Athens – Greece’s Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said on Tuesday avoiding new austeritymeasures to fulfill targets in the country’s international bailout was a priority of his two-party coalition government. “Our immediate priority is to return to …
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Greece: Austerity Doesn’t Involve Public-Sector Layoffs
Heritage.org (blog)
Slate’s Matthew Yglesias might be attacked as an “austerity denier” now that he has joined Heritage’s Salim Furth in pointing out that there is a lot of policy diversity under the broad label of “austerity.” Yglesias explained last week why a small but …
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Austerity support frays at edges among EU smaller fiscal hawks
Financial Times
Since the financial crisis swept through Europe four years ago, the bloc’s triple-A rated economies have been vociferous backers of controversial austerity measures as the solution to the continent’s woes. Yet as the crisis drags on, unemployment rises …
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Austerity Remains Key to Britain’s Economic Plan
New York Times (blog)
LONDON — Extended spending cuts, including a fresh squeeze on welfare payments, were announced by the British government on Wednesday, ensuring that the politics of austerity remain firmly center stage in the run-up to the country’s next elections.
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UK austerity: ‘Diverting money from poor to rich under guise of economic crisis’
RT (blog)
The UK’s austerity policy is ideologically driven and is aimed at diverting finance from the poor to the rich under the pretext of the economic crisis, writer John Wight told RT. Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne is announcing …
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Portuguese Workers Strike to Say Austerity Has Gone Too Far
Wall Street Journal
LISBON—A nationwide strike froze public-transport services and shrank hospital staffs across Portugal on Thursday amid a growing consensus among workers and businesses that austerity has reached its limit. Protests and strikes have become common …
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Austerity Britain rolls on
Morning Star Online
In the run-up to George Osborne’s spending review, the Sunday TV discussion programmes ran with their usual carefully selected commentators. All of them accepted that there have to be cuts in public expenditure. There was not an alternative policy on …
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Britain sugars austerity pill with infrastructure boost
euronews
LONDON (Reuters) – Chancellor George Osborne unveiled a new round of spending cuts on Wednesday, but promised to pump some of the savings straight back into the economy to counter charges of excessive austerity. In a speech to parliament …
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More spending cuts for Britain, but austerity pill is sugared
Reuters UK
LONDON (Reuters) – Chancellor George Osborne unveiled spending cuts on Wednesday to try to tame the country’s big public deficit, but promised to reinvest some of the money saved to counter criticism of excessive austerity. In a speech to parliament, …
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Austerity? It’s hardly begun! Chancellor Osborne tightens the purse strings …
This is Money
But for all the talk of austerity, government spending is set to rise from £720billion this year to £745billion in 2015/16 – the year the latest cuts take place. Over the same period, tax receipts are expected to rise from £612billion to £658billion …
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Chappatte-Crise-eu

Thousands join launch of new anti-austerity force


Thousands will descend on London today for the People’s Assembly Against Austerity to launch a united opposition that will mobilise co-ordinated anti-cuts action at national, regional and local level.

The event is Britain’s largest political conference in recent history – outstripping the combined attendance of the annual conferences of all three main political parties – and is backed by Britain’s major unions.

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The assembly will give a voice to the millions of people who oppose failed coalition government policies which are wrecking the economy, forcing down wages and decimating public services.

It takes place 48 hours after the three biggest unions – Unite, Unison and the GMB – announced plans to target the Tory Party conference in Manchester this September for a rally to defend the NHS.

The assembly has been hailed as a big breakthrough in creating a united front against the Tories and their Lib Dem accomplices.

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: “The People’s Assembly is the most significant step yet in building a nationwide opposition to the government’s policies of social devastation.

“Unite is proud to stand with all those demanding an end to the cuts which are pushing millions into the abyss of despair and in standing up for an alternative of social justice.”

The People’s Assembly has been endorsed by over 100 organisations including Unison and Unite, which between them represent almost three million workers across the public and private sectors.

It is also backed by thousands of individuals and groups, including academics, pensioners’ organisations and campaigners fighting to save the NHS.

Green MP Caroline Lucas, who is speaking at the assembly, said: “It offers a crucial opportunity for civil society to come together and take a stand against this government’s socially destructive and economically illiterate austerity programme.

“It is also a chance to challenge the harmful ideology which claims that public is ‘bad’ and private is ‘good’ and that everything from our health service to education is little more than a marketplace to be exploited for profit.”

With evidence emerging that austerity, pay freezes, tax rises and welfare cuts will drive seven million children into poverty in the next two years, she said: “It’s time to expose the lie that there is no alternative to austerity.”

The assembly will also launch two “People United” bus tours organised by unions Unite, Unison, GMB, PCS and CWU and the TUC to take the campaign against austerity into communities.

The tours culminate on July 5 at the NHS’s birthplace, Trafford General Hospital in Manchester, to celebrate the 65th anniversary of its foundation.

via Thousands join launch of new anti-austerity force / Britain / Britain/World / Home – Morning Star.

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