Monday, April 30, 2012

Austerity as Social Control

Public Job Loss Hurting Economic Recovery:

As the economic recovery has struggled to pick up speed, one of the biggest stumbling blocks has been job losses in state and local governments, which have been on the rise for much of President Obama’s term.

Since the beginning of his term, state and local governments have shed 611,000 employees — including 196,000 educators — according to government statistics. Unlike the recovery in private-sector employment that Obama and his reelection campaign often cite — with businesses adding 4 million jobs since hiring hit its low point in 2010 — the jobs crisis at the state and local level has continued throughout his term. 

The state and local job losses are significant for several reasons, economists say. For one, these losses have a broad social impact. Laying off teachers means larger class sizes and fewer after-school programs, for example.

“The job losses at state and local governments is the most serious weight on the job market,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, who has advised both parties.  

Of course, that means nothing to the brain dead "cut the fat" crowd.
Andrew Biggs, a scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, said that nobody wants people to lose their jobs unnecessarily but that it was right for the federal government not to do more to save these positions, because state and local governments had become bloated.

“It strikes an emotional chord with people if we have teacher layoffs, but we have hired a great many teachers in the past several decades,” Biggs said. He added that the layoffs “ultimately get you closer to where you should be in terms of the size of the public-sector workforce.”
Spoken like a true "think tank" dilettante who knows nothing about economics or the real world. In fact, cutting teachers is more than "an emotional chord" because not only does it devastate the future of the work force (and de facto society), but it serves as another form of social control for the surplus populations already marginalized.
Moreover, job losses in state and local government hit a workforce that is disproportionately composed of women and minorities.

The impact of the cuts was most visible in education, where states and localities cut 178,000 jobs. As a result, according to the American Association of School Administrators, many schools increased class size, eliminated summer programs, shortened the school week to four days or shut down altogether. Some states have cut funding for higher education in half.

Beyond education, dozens of states have cut funding for services for the elderly and disabled and for emergency service providers such as police and firefighters.Experts worry that the cuts will have lasting effects.

“There’s a big body of research showing that a lot of the things that state and local governments spend their money on have long-term effects on the economy and society as a whole,” said Nicholas Johnson, vice president for state fiscal policy at CBPP. “Cutting school funding now can hurt the education of a future workforce.”
But it makes sense, doesn't it? By cutting higher education, you keep the dissenters and other pointy heads quiet, and by cutting secondary schools, you discipline women and minorities, and you keep tomorrow's generation dumb, stupid and compliant. Bravo, budget cutters.

As we are now seeing in Europe, austerity has been a complete failure, driving the continent back into recession and upending the worst kinds of nativism, scapegoating and ethnocentrism in many of its nations.

If we keep heading down the same road here in the states, the same outcome will be inevitable: back into recession, back to blaming the (fill in scapegoat group), back to more political gridlock.

But the goal will have been achieved: keeping the dissenters, women and "them minor-rorities," as Archie Bunker used to say, in their place.

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