My Guide to Austerity
by Lord Greed
Some people are finding it difficult to understand what Austerity is all about, so I've written this as a guide.
1. Some people seem to think that the most important point about Austerity is that it should get the economy going. This is silly. There's no way that Austerity can "get the economy going". Let me explain: I try to sell things. That means that I need people to buy things. They need money to buy things. Austerity is about taking money away from most people. If most people haven't got money to buy things, people like me don't want to expand our businesses or open new businesses. We just haven't got anyone to sell to. That's OK for me. I don't need to expand. I'm doing extremely well standing still.
2. Some people seem to think that the next most important thing about Austerity is that getting the government to spend less is going to get the economy going too. What a strange idea. The government spending less money doesn't make sure there's more money going round. Our banks and our government can just create money anyway. No, if you want to find money, the best place to look is in the banks. We're hoarding money. Billions of it. Hundreds of billions of it. And we're not lending it. Why not? you might ask. Simple, because we're still in a state of panic about all the debts we ran up before the crash. We're not telling you how much this debt all adds up to because we want you to keep going on about the 'public debt'. Of course, we managed to get some governments to back our debts but that hasn't been enough to stop us hoarding.
3. So, what is going on? Well, it's quite simple really and it's only history repeating itself. Whenever people like me get into trouble, none of us great company owners wants to take the hit. So we try to 'improve our margins'. One way to do this is to raise our prices. Difficult to do that when people are earning less. The other way is to sack people - that's good, and we're doing that. The other way is to freeze wages or even cut them. That's good, and we're doing that. All with the help of governments. So people are getting poorer. If governments can help me get the same work out of my workers while I'm paying them less, that's a result for me. I get richer, they get poorer. And it's working. That's exactly what's happening. Put another way, Austerity is about transferring money from people who work for wages (and their dependents) to people like me who get money from profits.
4. So, Austerity is about making me richer. I could bore you with all the statistics showing this. The amazing thing is that people in the news rooms all over the world have these statistics, but they keep droning on and on about how 'we must bring down the national deficit" or "our country's bankrupt" and then they keep going on about how "we have to cut this kindergarten" or "we have to cut this library because there's no money left..." blah di blah. Rubbish, of course there's money. The banks are hoarding it. I've got billions myself. Yum yum. The great thing about them going on about all that, is that it takes attention away from me and my massive wealth. So I say, keep droning on, guys. You're doing great.
5. People ask me if capitalism is the best system there is for making and distributing the things we need and the wealth we create. Yes of course it is, because it makes me extremely rich. I own and control vast, unimaginable chunks of wealth and I boss hundreds of thousands of people around. Luckily, I have governments who help me do this by telling people that there's something special about me, that I am specially clever, or I am worth paying enormous respect to. That's why I'm a Lord. Governments are also very good explaining why this is the only way to run things. I particularly like it when ministers go on TV and talk about 'us' and 'the country' as if everyone is in the same boat. You ought to see my boat. You don't think I go to my Caribbean island in someone else's boat, do you?
6. Most of us in my position know what we have to do: is beat the next guy. Now we can try to do this in several ways: we can pay our people less, we can make them work harder for the same money, we can get in machines to make our stuff more cheaply, we can try pushing up prices, we can get governments to give us special deals, we can fiddle our taxes, we can produce brilliant ads, we can foist our stuff on to people and countries by getting governments to do what we say...and so on. In fact, we try to do all these things. Can I be clear? None of this is about making sure that what we make or lend is of top quality or that it is particularly useful or good for the majority of people. It's just about whether we flog it or not.
7. Of course, you might say that this is how we got into the mess in the first place: we flogged mortgages and debts to people. Yes, yes but that's why we invent 'Austerity' so that we can get out of these sticky situations. We just get poor people to pay. And I stay rich...or get richer. Yum yum. Austerity? I'm loving it.