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Austerity = Class Warfare by Dr. Godfrey Vincent

posted 8 Sept 2012, 12:41 by Gerry Kangalee

It is Budget time again in Trinidad and Tobago and once again, the word austerity looms large on the horizon. In some circles, it is called “belt-tightening.” Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary Tenth edition defines the term austerity as enforced or extreme economy. 

This means that the economic measures the government pursues in the budget will negatively impact a large section of the population. In order to achieve its objective, the government will engage in deficit spending by reducing the allocation of funding to public benefits and public services. 
In this global economy, the term austerity has become very popular. In fact, Merriam Webster’s Dictionary made it the word of year in 2010. This is so because governments in all continents have implemented austerity measures. 

For example, the governments of Spain and Greece have reduced spending on public services. Austerity has become the policy of choice of supporters of neo-liberal economic policies that are endorsed by the World Bank, IMF, and IFC. 
To show how committed he is to austerity measures and to the ideology of these three institutions, British Prime Minister David Cameron, in his keynote speech to the Conservative party forum in 2009, popularized the term “Age of Austerity” when he committed his government to end years of excessive government spending (See Deborah Summers, “David Cameron warns of “new age of austerity” The Guardian, April 26, 2009). However, in Trinidad and Tobago, this policy is not new. We have seen it adopted under the Chamber’s government, the NAR government and now the PP government. 
Before Larry Howai presents the budget and after it is presented, there will be a great deal of debates, discussions, arguments, protests, demonstrations and marches. However, I want people to understand austerity differently. 
Austerity is not just an economic policy that has serious socio-economic implications; it is also class warfare. Why class warfare? It is class warfare because it protects the “privileged” class and attacks the working class and working poor. 
This class warfare is waged because the “privileged” class does not want to shoulder any burdens. They want more tax cuts. They want to make more profits. They want a government that will “hammer” trade unions. They want a government that will privatize pensions and state enterprises. 

They want a government that will decimate the middle class. Therefore, we should stop looking at austerity as just cuts to social programs etc. It is simply class warfare. This class warfare is expressed in the PP’s policy of Public-Private Partnership. The government has made an alliance with the local and international “privileged” class to wage war on the working class, the working poor, and the middle class.

Don’t get caught up with the word; get hip to the game. Get hip to the new definition of austerity. The new definition of austerity is class