Drop the Term “Austerity” – It’s the Race to the Bottom

Glen Ford


“Americans are led to believe that the endless austerity regime is about reducing government deficits — a patent absurdity.”

Barack Obama attempted to forge a Grand Austerity Bargain with Republicans, offering to cut more in social spending than the GOP had asked for and appointing his own right-wing Democrat-led Deficit Commission to rationalize the carnage. Only the racism of the White Man’s Party, which could not bring itself to collaborate with the First Black President even when he served their common corporate master, skewered the deal. However, huge cuts were enacted, savaging what was left of the social safety net even as the masses of Americans struggled to recover from the worst economic meltdown since the Great Depression.

Obama’s reboot of austerity had the desired effect. So desperate were American workers, they accepted a whole new generation of “gig” contract, part-time, “contingent,” low-wage, no-benefits jobs, sometimes taking on two or three of them just to get by. A study by economists at Harvard and Princeton found that fully 95 percent  of the jobs created in the Obama era were shit jobs, hardly worthy of the term “jobs,” at all.

Austerity — a corporate policy of neoliberal capitalist parties — is designed to induce mass desperation so that workers are forced to accept whatever the bosses offer. However, the term, has been deliberately and systematically misused to connote responsible deficit reduction rather than a weapon of class warfare that marks a new and horrific stage of global capitalist plunder.

Just call it the Race to the Bottom, a plain spoken term that people can understand, and join together to resist, in solidarity.


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