Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Austerity And Its Discontents

Posted by Phoenix Woman on August 9, 2011

Even as London’s eastern neighborhoods are in flames because of austerity, President Obama is using the S&P downgrade as a pretext for more economy- and grandma-killing austerity here:

Let’s note, at the start, that this downgrade was absurd. The credit rating of the United States is not in jeopardy. The U.S. government prints dollars — it can no more run out of dollars than a bowling alley can run out of strikes.

What’s really happening is an attempt by both parties to justify slashing Social Security and Medicare. Republicans have long wanted to roll back the New Deal. What is relatively new is that a Democratic president is now dead-set on cutting these programs as well.

President Barack Obama, in his speech Monday about the downgrade, used the market turmoil as an excuse to do just that. After a debt ceiling deal in which the Democrats argued that defense spending cuts – not entitlement cuts — could close the long-term deficit, Obama said Monday that there’s “not much further” he can trim defense. Despite the fact that defense spending has gone up on his watch. Instead, Obama said, we need cuts in social spending, or, as he phrased it, “modest adjustments to health care programs like Medicare.”

In effect, there seems to have been a merger of both parties into a single force advocating for the interests of bondholders and the cutting of Medicare and Social Security. It’s why both Republicans and Democrats are now blaming each other for the downgrade — as if the downgrade is to be taken seriously.

[…]

Strange and ominous political eddies are already emerging. Congressional disapproval is higher than 80 percent. This could turn ugly – as it has before in U.S. history. While we’ve airbrushed the legacy of political violence out of U.S. history, it’s there. Labor conducted gun battles with Pinkerton private military forces in the late 19th century. Strikes often turned deadly in the 1930s. If there are serious defense cuts, the prospect of hundreds of thousands of war-weary former soldiers thrown into a terrible economy is not, shall we say, a recipe for social stability.

With proposals on the table to cut defense and social spending in a deflationary economy, maybe U.S. political leaders are just throwing one final, blow-out empire-ending party.

I don’t mean to push the panic button. After all, America has a stable political order that can handle a great deal of stress. This system, though, is rooted in a middle class that believes its interests are aligned with those running the country.

As the wealth, opportunity, social status and economic security of the middle class evaporates, so, too, could this belief.

We don’t not want to find out what happens if we should reach that point. But if politicians keep using S&P to justify bondholder-friendly policies that damage the interests of the middle class — we just might.

A word to the wise.

One Response to “Austerity And Its Discontents”

  1. Charles II said

    The British are not wise. These are Guardian readers:

    DoggThaBountyBar

    9 August 2011 4:15PM

    The Army.

    Decades of soft policing have failed, its time to shoot people who are in the act of looting and arson, it is quite within the law.

    That would soon put an end to any riots. We are beyond the rubber baton and pepper spray stage,

    IvyLeague

    9 August 2011 4:16PM

    Well Mr Campbell, you’ve argued against all the above measures so what would you suggest?

    I know what I and most other decent, hard working, law abiding people would like to see happen however, even posting such things here would see the comment deleted and the poster banned quicker than you could loot JJB.

    BackSacknCrack

    9 August 2011 4:16PM

    It seems the main issue is that the Old Bill arrive and watch, while waiting for reinforcements. In this risk adverse culture they don’t want to get stuck in.

    So I guess anything that evens up the odds, and allows small groups of coppers to take on a larger number of looters is what is wanted.

    But as the looters are mostly kids, baton rounds are more dangerous than for adults. Not an easy call, but an easy opinion!

    AntiTerrorist

    9 August 2011 4:17PM

    I don’t understand why police can’t see a rioter throwing a brick and hit him with the baton round. From what I understand the likely outcome would be a hell of a sore kid on the ground. Then get an armed unit up there to arrest him.

    Do that 10 times and suddenly throwing a brick wont seem like such a fun idea.

    HughManatee

    9 August 2011 4:17PM

    I would vote for flamethrowers. The like a good fire, give them one of their own.

    erniemung

    9 August 2011 4:18PM

    Pull the Hoods down, Pull the jeans up,
    Get a life….not someone elses

    AntiTerrorist

    9 August 2011 4:18PM

    BackSacknCrack,

    Any idea of fatality rates for Baton Rounds on kids? Genuine question.

    RedSperanza

    9 August 2011 4:19PM

    And is Northern Ireland really an example of how to keep the peace?

    Indeed not.

    dfic1999

    9 August 2011 4:19PM

    Campbell:

    So what are the options being considered and would they really help to restore order to the streets?

    Rain?

    DocMolotov

    9 August 2011 4:19PM

    Release the animals form London zoo.

    DocMolotov

    9 August 2011 4:20PM

    What ever happened to good old fashioned tear gas?

    RedSperanza

    9 August 2011 4:21PM

    Tle list of people killed by plastic bullets in Northern Ireland is 17.

    The youngest victim was 11.

    moroboshi

    9 August 2011 4:21PM

    Rabid dogs perhaps? That would make for good TV.

    Or perhaps snipers?

    capmint1

    9 August 2011 4:21PM

    Water Cannon
    I dont understand Theresa May comment, is it safe in N Ireland and unsafe in London? What is the difference btw Belfast and areas of London exactly?

    Baton rounds
    the West Yorkshire Police came close to deploying these during the Bradford riots on Manningham Road, again, only to be used where their is a risk to life

    Army
    this would be stupid and counter-productive, the Army arent trained for civil law enforcement, what would be the rules of engagement, in N Ireland they are deployed to back up the local police where there is a threat of terrorist incidents and risk of shootings and bombings; it would have been better if Cameron had trained up more riot police

    CrashBall

    9 August 2011 4:21PM

    One problem is that both water cannon and plastic bullets might merely heighten the levels of excitement for the committed rioter and looter. And is Northern Ireland really an example of how to keep the peace?

    Imagine how much worse riots in the North would be without them deterring all but the most hate-filled bigots?

    The current situation in London has no religious or political motivation. It is greed and violence for it’s own sake. When the scum learn that robbing shops will get them a plastic bullet in the face then they’ll not rob a second one.

    RedSperanza

    9 August 2011 4:22PM

    AntiTerrorist

    Any idea of fatality rates for Baton Rounds on kids? Genuine question.

    http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/issues/violence/rubberplasticbullet.htm

    Staff
    JessicaReed

    9 August 2011 4:22PM

    I was gonna say, French police put a small French girl (she was 4 I think) in a coma earlier this year thanks to a plastic bullet which wasn’t aimed for her (obviously) but a gang member. No thanks.

    bailliegillies

    9 August 2011 4:23PM

    Gaddafi to call for a No fly Zone over London to protect innocent lives.

    DoggThaBountyBar

    9 August 2011 4:23PM

    Any idea of fatality rates for Baton Rounds on kids? Genuine question.

    Im pretty sure of the fatality rates of innocent people trapped in buildings set ablaze by kids.

    Baton Rounds or Live rounds, nobody cares about what happens to total scum who are burning and looting innocent people.

    BackSacknCrack

    9 August 2011 4:24PM

    AntiTerrorist

    The basic issue is that, as Issac Newton said, F=MA. And in a kid, the M is lower.

    In Northern Ireland a disproportionate number of fatalities are in children, with ricochets especially dangerous:

    http://www.rucgcfoundation.org/stats6.htm

    The latest baton rounds are supposed to be safer, but may not be:

    http://users.datarealm.com/pfc/policing/plastic/l21a1.html

    Like I said, not an easy call.

    IvyLeague

    9 August 2011 4:24PM

    DocMolotov

    Release the animals form London zoo.

    Yeah, set the Penguins on the buggers. That’ll learn em!

    Contributor
    NapoleonKaramazov

    9 August 2011 4:25PM

    Well I have’t commented as there is no point when 1000 others have. But here goes…..

    The problem is gangster rap music.
    What I have always seen whenever I go to London is that British black youth seem to fantasise about life in tough LA ghettos rather than staid and peaceful Britian, and base their lifestyle around it, their manner of speech, mode of dress, outward personas.. This drags people down as it revels in a culture of ignorance, violence, sexism and homophobia. The way many British kids of a west indian background speak even seems as if they are trying to ape that US subculture. This attitude is largely amongst the African Caribean community in this country although sometimes other groups catch on. It is sad and tragic, especially as it has no relevance on them and they don’t live in an American ghetto. They are West Indians, culturally associated with the Commonwealth and not with the hoods of America. And even then America does have a black culture which is not synonymous with the hood,- Obama?

    There are many first generation Africans who are not part by this subculturea nd come here to do specialised degrees, or are already highly skilled proffesionals. These are the type of role models the black community needs.

    CrashBall

    9 August 2011 4:25PM

    I was gonna say, French police put a small French girl (she was 4 I think) in a coma earlier this year thanks to a plastic bullet which wasn’t aimed for her (obviously) but a gang member. No thanks.

    So we let the situation carry on as is until the mob kills a few, or more, people? Wonderful.

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