Summary: Political power goes hand in hand with who holds the money. Rarely are politicians poor or even "middle class" (a term they like to apply so loosely and broadly). When the political system is dominated by so few (think the 1%), the powers that be are free to use austerity to trim programs that they deem to be of least relevance to their own well-being, leaving the 99% to fend for themselves. Austerity is supposed to be a miracle fix for the economy, but the promises made when cuts are proposed often do not materialize. Moreover, the poor and working class tend to be hardest hit as programs that benefit them are often the first to be cut. This short video by Workers Uniting summarizes austerity in light of the issues confronting the least affluent across the country, including welfare cuts, lowered wages, and unemployment. Canadian economist Armine Yalnizyan states at 4:41, "You can't cut your way into growth," and later refers to the steps being taken as a "fiscal fantasy" given the common belief that cutting programs will magically solve budget deficits and lead to economic growth. Further, Yalnizyan notes that if it were this easy to solve the economic problems of the world, would it be moral to target those programs that assist the have-nots? At 7:07, Robert Kuttner suggests that we remove politicians that advocate austerity, and instead elect those who will bring us "possibility." Government needs to move forward by finding alternative ways to slash deficits and grow the economy without cutting programs that help the underrepresented 99%.
Submitted By: Rebekah Miller