I’ve never been interested in politics or economics before- maybe I’m just getting old. The age has dawned on me where I am no longer willing to sit back passively and accept what happens at face value simply because I don’t understand, or worse yet, because I don’t know the first step in asking the important questions.
Too many politicians sound like they are attempting to play hopscotch with the real facts. I guess there is a reason why they call someone who dances around the truth, and evades a question ‘politic’.
So here I go: jumping off into the abyss of an ocean seemingly reserved for a passionate polarized ‘other.’
It really started with the release of the current budgets in both Ontario and Canada, and the general downturn of the economy around the world in the past four years. I discovered a new term -austerity. It seems innocuous at first- I’m certain there were many government think tanks employed to find the least startling word that could be used so as not to create panic. Austerity, rhyming with posterity and charity, is quite the opposite. Conjuring images of Pink Floyd’s professor from “Brick in the Wall,” to Dickens’ “Scrooge” or a military drill sergeant, the word means severe in appearance and lacking softness- with a faint odor of bleakness.
It is certainly not the noun anyone wants to join the word budget- but here we are! In fact Miriam-Webster named austerity their word of the year in 2010 because it had received the majority of requests for definition. I have currently done my part to trump that record in 2012.
What does the frequency of this term mean for the world in which we live? I honestly don’t know yet. The reality is that it means cuts to almost everything to which the government contributes: cuts to funding of social services, international aid, the arts, infrastructure programs, a freeze if not a clawing back of wages, and a restructuring of governmental departments. I’m certain there are many other cuts I’ve missed, not to mention sub categories of cuts I have included.
Will we pull ourselves out of it? History shows nothing lasts forever. Those few who are alive that witnessed the Great Depression would certainly agree- I hope. It took a World War to get out of their slump. When the chaos and violence over the cuts happens, our societies will rebuild when they can, but at what cost?