In this nightmare vision of cats in revolt, fifteen-year-old Alex and his friends set out on a diabolical orgy of robbery, rape, torture and murder. Alex is jailed for his teenage delinquency and the State tries to reform him - but at what cost?
Debunking the long-held myths that keep austerity alive Progressive Post
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John Week’s The Debt Delusion: Living Within our Means and Other Fallacies is a thought provoking book for a variety of reasons, not least of which is the sheer impossibility of separating economics from the social and political context that shapes the policies we all have to live with. This not only undermines the idea that economics could ever be considered a natural science (no matter how much many economists would like it to be). It also brings to light the myths that have been popularised to justify the form of liberal capitalism that has dominated much of the world’s economy since the days of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan. These myths – or as the book’s subtitle puts it, “fallacies” – are of course, in reality, something entirely different: they’re advertising copy lines which together form a compelling sales pitch. To the many who take them at face value, these myths feel like they should be true. For example, an apparently powerful justification for economic austerity – cutting public spending to “balance the government’s budget and pay down the national debt” – is the idea that a government’s budget can be likened to that of a household or business. But even a quick look at the increase in non-mortgage debt in the UK, during the two years before 2019, would soon undermine the argument that public debt is comparable to household or business debt. However, when it comes to economics, not many citizens take the time to dig beneath the surface and decide for themselves how the ideas on offer actually stack up. That is fairly surprising, given the regular financial crises, and rising levels of poverty and inequality that many nations are saddled with. Those familiar exhortations, “We must live within our means”, “We should tighten our belts”, “Taxes are a burden” and “Austerity – there is no alternative”, are therefore rarely questioned. When you look at the size and complexity of John Maynard Keynes’s General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, it is perhaps not hard to see why. Most ads on TV talk about the many wonders that will inevitably follow if you buy, for example, the latest anti-ageing cream. But they don’t go into the complexities of how it’s made, where it was “clinically tested”, or indeed, exactly what the “X number of signs of ageing” it will “fight” actually are. The ad is not intended to inform or analyse; it is intended to produce an emotional response – as are the tired old austerity slogans. It’s not as though there are no alternative ways of looking at the economy; and Week’s book certainly sets out a compelling view on how at least some of these might significantly improve our lot. After all, separating economics from society is at least as problematic as filtering out the politics. Thus, an important theme in The Debt Delusion is the inter-relationship between the economy and society, and the government’s responsibility – and political mandate – to further the interests of its citizens. In his book, Weeks sets out to debunk six powerful myths that have been used to justify austerity:
- We must live within our means
- Governments must balance their books
- We must tighten our belts
- Never go into debt
- Taxes are a burden
- Austerity: there is no alternative