HELLO: Austerity you said?


Austerity you said?
By Isis Win
I’ve lived through times in which the government was forced to austerity. I did in Mexico City after the peso devaluation in the ’70s, and again in Guatemala almost a decade after. Programs suffered the most and with the “excuse” of shortness of cash, many institutions suffered to a point where they were no longer able to provide support to their tax payers. Ironically, tax payers pay taxes to guarantee that they are provided for their services when they need them.
Currently, due to the financial status in the world, the heavy cost of running government and the increased debt, the U.S. is in need of activating all measures to save money. : the deactivation or reduction of existing programs.  Regardless of the US being the top nation in the world, many programs will be cut. Some will be reasonably cut, others to the max and I bet a few to being almost non-existent. The battle of cuts, in regards of – what and how – will be implemented, is before the bench of political feuding and negotiating. 
However, there are programs that not only cannot be reduced, but in light of the signs of recent times, likely will increase their costs – many folds.  Disaster Relief is one of many. I hope no one doubts today that the known natural order of our planet has been changed. Regardless of what the reasons for these changes are (e.g., abuse? or if there is a culprit, i.e., mankind?), no one is going to jump with the needed cash to repair the damages caused by natural disasters. Unless we, the people, accept that what has been destroyed or damaged, we are going to urge the government to take care of it, otherwise . . . 
The fact is that what needs repair will never vanish. Likely, the damage will steadily grow <hello, roads?>, creating serious problems, and disregarding it even for a moment, will put the country further behind, instead of achieving the needed progress of building up our infrastructure, the same infrastructure that already is in shambles in most of the country. 
So, what are we going to do about it? Nothing? Cancel other programs in exchange? In case you opt for the later, most of those programs already are suffering severe cuts and the recent adjustments or cuts are not even in place. 
One of the most annoying aspects in regards to how the country will be managed through austerity is the fact that politics will always be the decisive factor. Every congressman, Senator, Secretary, functionary and the President are involved, and each of them will fight for their own goals and aims. Without exception, they will negotiate in whatever way they can to get what they need or want. When it comes to others . . .  they can wait. Therefore, they will use their best and most crude political tools to make sure that they deliver to their constituents what they are supposed to; otherwise, they lose their place in office. And we all know how much everyone wants to hold onto that office. In fact, in the large scope of politics, we know well that both parties will do WHATEVER is necessary to gain a majority in the Senate or the House of representatives. That at the cost of everyone and everything.
That’s what we know so far, but what we don’t know: Is austerity in reality about making the best use of tax money, or simply cutting the budget. I am of the opinion that the #1 ticket should always be – the optimization of the use of tax money <Hello, Iraq?>. 
It is not doubtful that many government offices don’t deliver their mission as expected and planned. It is well-known too, that may governments employees collect their weekly check regardless of their performance, even if that same performance often is in question . As well, it is well known that large amounts of money have been wasted illegally, often without punishment. A case in point: The scandal a few years ago at the Department of Agriculture, where employees were using tax money for personal use and did it in such a way, that they were wasting it for the sake of it. Such abuses included paying for unnecessary trips, including personal ones, repairs to personal property, car rentals, or buying favors. Another example: Yesterday NBC informed us that a billion dollars was wasted in the middle east in the recent years. 
I agree with most critics of government, the size of our government is such, that the inherent cost is almost unmanageable. It is true that politics are the common denominator to sustaining a larger-than-needed government.  More importantly, if it could be shrunk . . . if everyone would do what they are supposed to . . .  on deadline and budget – likely – cuts would be minimized. It is absolutely true that austerity in these times is a must, but there is much more to be done, including whatever is necessary to fix a government that flakes out more often than not. However, congratulations to the agencies involved through hurricane Irene. Job well done! 
Back to my point: Everyone in government must earn their position, and as well their salary. In fact, many of those salaries, if not most, are purely unjustified and ridiculous, extremely high salaries, considering the level of experience needed and the responsibility entailed.  If the country were in perfect and promising shape, it would make sense paying high salaries but . . . The ultimate of all truths is – that the country is in bad shape because it has been abused <Hello Mr G. W. Bush> and neglected for too many years. And today, whether we want it or not, austerity may force much more of that. A very concerning panorama. 
Nevertheless, we already hear the candidates from the republican party for the official presidential candidacy  to promise to deal with the actual problems in a way that everyone will be satisfied. Yeah right! There cannot be a more false promise, because what we are going through, is the result of bad politics in both parties, through decades, empty promises and the vitriol of our political world.
Politicians that don’t join their opponents for the well-being of the nation and instead exclusively work towards their own interest, party or constituents, are just like members of a dysfunctional family that at some point, never get to see each other, and much less, to honor where they come from.
Think about it and will you be kind to share your point of view?
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One response to “HELLO: Austerity you said?

  1. Hello, Isis!
    As I read and pondered this post, I reflected on how austerity, in its various guises, affected my former profession in human services. The “working capital” of any community, large, or small, is its people. As domestic program and service funding is progressively short-changed by politicians, in the name of “balanced budgets” and “austerity”, we, as a nation, increasingly fail to reinvest in that working capital, and especially, in that all-important pool of human wealth, our youth.

    There are many things that are sapping our local, state, and federal budgets. But investment in our human “infrastructure” is something that we cannot, and must not neglect. There are some that see such expenditures as the roots of a “welfare state”, of “socialism”. Indeed, I am waiting for some to even say that such investment is “unpatriotic”. However, without a safe, healthy, educated, capable, motivated, and enthusiastic population, we cannot expect this nation to do much more than survive, let alone thrive. If not for moral or ethical reasons, and if for merely economic motivations, it seems that austerity must not sacrifice the well-being of all of our people, and especially our youth.

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