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It's always about austerity

by Migeru Wed Apr 25th, 2012 at 05:21:58 AM EST

From the NY Review of Books comes an article by Physics Nobel Prize winner Steven Weinberg about The Crisis of Big Science. After documenting the dire state of science founding and recounting his own experience with the killing of the Superconducting Supercollider in the 1990s, he concludes with

Big science is in competition for government funds, not only with manned space flight, and with various programs of real science, but also with many other things that we need government to do. We don’t spend enough on education to make becoming a teacher an attractive career choice for our best college graduates. Our passenger rail lines and Internet services look increasingly poor compared with what one finds in Europe and East Asia. We don’t have enough patent inspectors to process new patent applications without endless delays. The overcrowding and understaffing in some of our prisons amount to cruel and unusual punishment. We have a shortage of judges, so that civil suits take years to be heard.

The Securities and Exchange Commission, moreover, doesn’t have enough staff to win cases against the corporations it is charged to regulate. There aren’t enough drug rehabilitation centers to treat addicts who want to be treated. We have fewer policemen and firemen than before September 11. Many people in America cannot count on adequate medical care. And so on. In fact, many of these other responsibilities of government have been treated worse in the present Congress than science. All these problems will become more severe if current legislation forces an 8 percent sequestration—or reduction, in effect—of nonmilitary spending after this year.


It seems to me that what is really needed is not more special pleading for one or another particular public good, but for all the people who care about these things to unite in restoring higher and more progressive tax rates, especially on investment income. I am not an economist, but I talk to economists, and I gather that dollar for dollar, government spending stimulates the economy more than tax cuts. It is simply a fallacy to say that we cannot afford increased government spending. But given the anti-tax mania that seems to be gripping the public, views like these are political poison. This is the real crisis, and not just for science

Why is is that every discussion these days revolves around the folly of austerity?

(h/t Talos)

guaranteed to evoke a violent reaction from police is to challenge their right to "define the situation." --- David Graeber citing Marc Cooper
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Apr 25th, 2012 at 05:22:37 AM EST
Why is is that every discussion these days revolves around the folly of austerity?

If the author took the time to read ET regularly he would know that this is the chosen path by the few to enslave and exterminate the masses. Quite simple really if you think about it.

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Wed Apr 25th, 2012 at 07:21:06 AM EST
"All that is excessive is insignificant."
by Xavier in Paris on Wed Apr 25th, 2012 at 03:49:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Goodbody - Morning Wrap
Ireland the only country in euro area to see a fall in labour costs in 2011
Despite the need for internal devaluations in a number of the peripheral euro area countries, Ireland was the only country in the euro area to see a decrease in hourly labour costs last year. Yesterday's Eurostat release reveals the extent of both the difference in hourly labour costs and the trends in these costs. In 2011, hourly labour costs in the euro area ranged from a low of €8.40 in Slovakia to a high of €39.20 in Belgium.

Average hourly labour costs in Ireland stood at €27.40, 1% below the euro area average. Ireland was 6% above the euro area average in 2009 revealing the progress made on reducing costs in the Irish economy since then. In 2011, Irish hourly labour costs fell by 2% relative to a 3% increase in the euro area overall. There are no data available for Greece last year but the other "peripheral" countries with large current account deficits - Italy (+3%), Spain (+2%), Portugal (+1%) - all recorded increases.

A more important gauge of competitiveness gains, however, is unit labour costs, i.e. the costs of output per hour. Given that labour costs fell in 2011 but overall output rose (GDP rose by 0.7%), highlights that productivity is also playing an important role in the improvement in competitiveness in Ireland. Data on hourly labour costs alone will not pick this up and may also hide a mix effect in economies that are seeing a shift in the share of labour taken up by higher productivity industries.

This makes the Irish numbers even more impressive as the job gains seen in Ireland recently have largely been in multi-national firms who have higher average pay levels and would thus skew the numbers upwards. While domestic demand dynamics continue to concern us the improvement in competitiveness continues to put Ireland in a strong position to continue to enjoy export-led growth.

See?  Competitive Austerity can be good for you. It's all about who can get to the bottom fastest...

PS The profits derived from "export led growth" are overwhelmingly repatriated to HQs in tax havens, the US and elsewhere resulting in an ever wider gap between Irish GNP and GDP.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Apr 25th, 2012 at 08:03:22 AM EST
I'm not sure what statistics he's referring to, but if they show that average labor costs have gone up in Greece even in nominal terms in 2011 (in fact if they show anything other than a collapse), they are either plain wrong or define "labor costs" in a non-intuitive way, and contradict other Eurostat data...

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom - William Blake
by talos (mihalis at gmail dot com) on Wed Apr 25th, 2012 at 02:25:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Doesn't get back to us. Runs through Dutch sandwich, pools through Carib tax haven, then sits in probably European bank accounts.
by rootless2 on Thu Apr 26th, 2012 at 11:18:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Apr 26th, 2012 at 02:02:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why is is that every discussion these days revolves around the folly of austerity?

Because there is a long-standing struggle between the rich and the poor, and while certain political developments over the past century tended to favor the poor, the rich have been regaining some territory in the past couple of decades. It is not at all unreasonable to expect that western society will return to a previous arrangement, perhaps that in effect during the early period of the industrial revolution.

by asdf on Wed Apr 25th, 2012 at 01:54:43 PM EST
Why is is that every discussion these days revolves around the folly of austerity?

Because it is the purchased received opinion in the mainstream media, folly though we know it to be. Thanks to that media the 'necessity' for austerity reverberates through the public sphere, and for most it is just the inevitable.

But that is now. Tomorrow is a different day. Given the objective situation in so many countries there are majorities of populations that are or will be receptive to alternatives. That depression and a debt-deflation economic death spiral is a choice needs wider currency. I think a slogan such as "Depression is a choice --- by the rich." on posters in public spaces might be a way to fight back.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Apr 25th, 2012 at 05:21:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That domination of the public space is the goal of purchased opinion can be seen on display anytime a 'serious' representative is seen in a public debate and faced with a clear exposition of an alternative. Almost without exception their response is to talk over and, effectively, drown out the proponent of the alternative. This is what they are paid to do and they understand their job.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Apr 26th, 2012 at 11:49:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why is is that every discussion these days revolves around the folly of austerity?

Because government distorts market equilibrium and prevents wealth creation. Without government we would have a feodalistic oligar.. umphh, neoclassical paradise.

by kjr63 on Wed May 2nd, 2012 at 08:54:42 AM EST

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