Saturday, May 9, 2015

Austerity, in all its British Glory



The British elections brought an unexpected landslide of power to David Cameron’s conservative government. Now Cameron only has to figure and jigger a way to deliver on his promise to balance the British national budget by removing £12 billion pounds ($18 billion US) annually from welfare.
 
We Americans might well pay special attention to just how he does that and its affects upon the British social system because this election may presage our own in November of 2016. Even as the polls closed, Brit pundits insisted this election was too close to call and Cameron would most certainly have to rule by coalition. 

We Americans are not big on coalitions, preferring (in our two-party system) to call it bipartisanship. But would it be a great surprise to see Republicans sweep the presidency and both houses of congress in 2016?

Possibly. It was a surprise in London as well and now promises must be delivered. The fact is that the Republican Party has made similar commitments and our annual welfare costs are fifty-three times that of Britain, at $956 billion. 

So I have some helpful hints for a potential Republican victor:

First, trickle-up is a possibility, but American business far prefers trickle-down and so it has never been tried. Trickle-up would involve a national minimum wage of about $30,000 per year and Nobel Prizewinning economists Joseph Stiglitz and Paul Krugman suggest it would both balance the budget and maintain the stock market on its upward trajectory. 

But we Americans are trickle-downers at heart and have an inborn hatred of the poor—useless and lazy bastards that we conceive them to be. So, that solution is unlikely, even though we have fashioned ourselves as a consumer-driven society that is increasingly short of consumers.

The second choice is to rally the poor. Call them out from their dilapidated housing and subsistence jobs to the national need. Let the flags wave and the bands play. Call up the Republican budget-makers to speak in glowing terms of what America might be with them in the saddle.

After all, in the words of FDR they have nothing to fear but fear itself. $956 billion is doable. If they care for their nation, they’ll dig deep into their frayed and mostly empty pockets for loose change. Together (but for those of us who have good jobs) we can do it.

$956 billion is only a tad over $2.6 billion a day and there are 110 million American welfare-cheats, sucking up dollars like pigs at the trough. The statistics are solid. $2.36 a goddam day. C’mon you deadbeats, certainly you can kick in two and a half bucks each and every day for your nation. Rattle the tin can you live by a bit. Kennedy said it: “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

This whole austerity deal has been overblown. Statistics don’t lie. If you torture them sufficiently, statistics will confess to anything.

I feel better already, having put this whole bit of nonsense to bed for once and for all. Having rallied all you useless poor, old and disadvantaged to the cause of your country, waved the flag, played triumphal music and speechified you, feel free to wander back to whatever the hell hovel you crawled out of. Welfare is imprisonment. Poverty is the freedom of the market.

Case closed. Austerity, finally proven by democratic process. Thank you all and special thanks to our mentor, David Cameron.