Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Austerity - the new black?



1. austere quality; severity of manner, life, etc.; sternness.
2. Usually, austerities. ascetic practices: austerities of monastery life.
3. strict economy.

1.  harshness, strictness, asceticism, rigor.
2. See hardship.

1.    leniency.

It seems to be pretty much the buzz word of the moment and in searching for an image to illustrate what I was trying to get at I found this poster image, which really tells it like it is.

It is a bit Marie Antoinette, let them eat cake, her famous catalyst for the French Revolution, the rich telling the average they must tighten their belts. This morning on the news there was a report on the Czech Republic where many of the public services are taking action in response to their government’s austerity measures. This got me inspired to ramble on about this.

Now, I have previously noted, I am not an economist, but neither am I a fool, illiterate, narrow minded or without opinion. The current global situation is, wait for that other word of the moment, unsustainable. Here in New Zealand the national debt increases by NZ$250 million per week – that’s $60 for every man, woman and child in the country, per week. So I guess we are all expected to cut back, save, be austere?

OK, so that’s what numerous centre right governments are proposing; in the mean time the likes of China, Taiwan and other eastern communities continue to mass produce and ship to western shores the ‘must haves’ that we, the consumer sheep that have been brainwashed by capitalist, global consumerism and the Disney Channel into never ending consumption of ‘not really needed’. There are other culprits in this game – Microsoft – lets update the operating system; OK , so now you need a new processor and RAM, oh, better chuck in a graphics card too! Oh, so that’s a new machine, but wait, you’ll need a printer to go with that, and a USB keyboard, etc… Same with TV’s, stereo, etc. We had a four megapixel digital camera, replace with a 7.2 and since replace with a 10mp – can I tell the difference between the images?

So, we tighten our belts and stop giving our money to China; but hang on, as a proportion the money we save is minuscule in comparison to the tax SAVINGS that have been handed out to the rich. Similarly, isn’t it the rich bankers who got us into this mess via their personal game of poker with our money? So why not tax the right? The right wingers reading this are saying “they will move overseas, stash their money somewhere safe” – true, if Bono does it, then why don’t others. Which is why you need a global approach; I’ll start being austere when the filthy rich start paying their share (seeing as they make from us already and use accountants to minimise their contributions).

Now here’s and interesting idea
"Most cruel joke of all, however, has been played by Hitler & Co. on those German capitalists and small businessmen who once backed National Socialism as a means of saving Germany's bourgeois economic structure from radicalism. The Nazi credo that the individual belongs to the state also applies to business. Some businesses have been confiscated outright, on other what amounts to a capital tax has been levied. Profits have been strictly controlled. Some idea of the increasing Governmental control and interference in business could be deduced from the fact that 80% of all building and 50% of all industrial orders in Germany originated last year with the Government. Hard-pressed for food- stuffs as well as funds, the Nazi regime has taken over large estates and in many instances collectivized agriculture, a procedure fundamentally similar to Russian Communism."

    (Source: Time Magazine; January 2, 1939.)

Old Adolf was a cruel bugger; I am not becoming a sympathizer, but I do remember from my ‘O’ grade history that he did something quite revolutionary. In the early 30’s Germany was skint, mass unemployment and they were the standing joke of Europe. Hitler didn’t like this, so he grabbed his opportunity and actually started to use the available labour to do some good for his people and his country. They rebuilt the industries, they made products (the VW Beetle) that people identified with, they built high quality roads and railways. When the economic decline ended who was the power house? Not the countries that had people NOT working, but the countries that had invested in infrastructure.

So what is my point; unless countries wise up, start investing in the whole of the country rather that the affluent few, we are all doomed! Need more examples?

On the news the other evening they were talking about Thomas Edison; the last light bulb factory in the US is set to close as they change to energy efficient bulbs, the majority of which are made in, yes that’s right, China. So, the USA will be reliant on other for light.

There is a car dealer in Rotorua, once up a time it was Range Rover and BMW; it then became just BMW; that lasted a couple of years before the became BMW and Mazda. A year or so later an BMW were gone and about 18 months later the geely Brand popped up. Who the hell are Geely? A Chinese car company, pretty big, they bought Volvo off Ford to bail them out of debt; they are already selling ‘Great Wall’ trucks, so it was only a matter of time; and will it only be a matter of time before the Mazda bit drops from the dealer?

So where will the profits of all the industrious Chinese companies end up, not in our treasury. How long before all Western Countries have to do is fight other peoples wars, hang out at Ronnie’s Golden Arches and die from obesity?

By the way recently I have rediscovered the joys of the Arctic Monkeys - there is a lot to be said for the joys of a Yorkshire accent and vocalists who have smart lyrics and don't sound phoney.

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