Tuesday, July 18, 2017

It Makes Them Worse

A recent study in Britain confirms that austerity has serious consequences. Owen Jones writes:

Let us take a moment to reflect on what the Tories have done to this country. They made apocalyptic warnings of what would happen if they did not eliminate the deficit by 2015; they didn’t get close, and now that target has vanished off to the distant mid-2020s. They added more debt then every Labour government. They battered disabled people with cuts and slashed support for the working poor. They presided over the longest squeeze in wages since the 19th century, and the worst peacetime record of housebuilding since the 1920s. And now we know they have presided over a fall in the rate of increase in life expectancy.

And yes, the combined effects of the bankers’ crash and austerity did kill in Britain. Until Lehman Brothers came toppling down, the number of men taking their own lives was steadily falling. Then it began to climb again: hundreds of people died who – if the previous trend had continued – would still be with us today. And at the end of 2015, Britain endured the biggest jump in mortality rates for nearly half a century. As Liverpool University’s Dr Mark Green put it: “It is plausible that the impacts of cutbacks in public services are beginning to materialise.”

The mantra was "short term pain for long term gain." But the results are in. And it's clear that austerity has not resulted in progress:

And yet new research by an ex-government adviser, Sir Michael Marmot, suggests that the rise in life expectancy – a constant trend for a hundred years – has stalled since 2010. What happened that year, exactly? Was that not when David Cameron, George Osborne and their Lib Dem stooges began slashing public services with a false economic pretext?

No, it’s not that life expectancy is declining. That really would be the sign of a social calamity in a country as advanced as this. But we are still talking about the robbing of life. People’s lives have been truncated, because they are not living as long as they should have done if the rate of increase had continued. And terrifyingly, this rate of increase is “pretty close to having ground to a halt”, says Marmot. He is “deeply concerned” and “expected it to just keep getting better.”

Marmot does not make the claim that cuts are responsible. What he does say is that, in 2010, ministers made a “political decision” to cut spending; and he highlights the “miserly” recent spending on health and social care.

What's the bottom line? Austerity is not a cure to society's ills. It's a catalyst. It makes them worse.

Image: Common Dreams


Anonymous said...

That austerity is not a cure for society's ills is well-known and backed by empirical research. Even the IMF agrees. Austerity economics are, however, an excellent way of transferring wealth from the poor and middle class to the rich. The Tory policies do exactly what they were designed to do, while stoking popular resentment against government and support for privatization (another successful means of enriching the already rich).


Owen Gray said...

It's all about tickle up economics, Cap -- and defying gravity. Thanks for the link.

Dana said...

On the other hand, as we all pretty much agreed recently, something has to reduce the global population.

We can't have it both ways.

Owen Gray said...

But, as always, Dana, it's a question of ways and means.

Dana said...

Not really, Owen. And not in the dire circumstance in which we find ourselves. We unthinkingly fixate on saving every life, on curing every malaise, on extending life, on increasing fertility...all of which exacerbates our problems.

We can't possibly address the problem by making the problem more intransigent and yet that is exactly what we do - when we acknowledge the problem at all.

Owen Gray said...

But we're left with the problem of who's to be saved and who's to be sacrificed, Dana. And whether the deaths should be accelerated. It's not just a question of chance or -- as some would have it -- pure dumb luck.

Dana said...

We're also left with the problem of auto-annihilation if over population remains unaddressed.

So do we want to try and address the problem or do we want to cling to what is now very clearly a species-destructive morality.

To me it's really that clear. Of course it's also clear which choice will be made.

Owen Gray said...

We're between a rock and a hard place, Dana. Which means that crafting policy will be very, very difficult -- as was the case with assisted dying legislation.

The Mound of Sound said...

Yes, there's a pressing need to reduce overpopulation but that has to focus on the truly overly populated states - China, India and parts of Africa. In the developed world the challenge must be to reduce our overall consumption of resources. We have to curb our consumption, a process that has to be focused on the wealthiest, those who consume excessively and hoard. That begins with some degree of confiscatory taxation on the really large estates. Even Teddy Roosevelt understood that and advocated for it in 1910. There's a reason why we read story after story detailing how such an infinitesimal percentage own such a huge share of global wealth. That's not healthy for any society whether Third World or in the developed nations.

Anonymous said...

And still, "intelligent" people, who should know better and probably do, still vote for them.


My theory is it's all about their investment portfolio and to hell with everyone else.


Owen Gray said...

Economists have known for a long time that healthy economies share resources, Mound. But our taxation system encourages hording. It's a prescription for individual illness and global collapse.

Owen Gray said...

When life is all about getting yours and letting the chips fall where they may, JM, things cannot end well.