Austerity Is NOT The Only Way: Portugal!

David Byrne at his new website Reasons To Be Cheerful:

Was austerity the only possible response to the debt that many nations incurred after the global economic mess post 2008? The answer, if one looks at Portugal and some other places, is NO. In other words, what was fed to us—that austerity was inevitable and necessary—was a lie. There was and is another way.

A tiny bit of background:

After the banking and credit mess of 2008, “austerity”— government measures taken to reduce expenditure, usually in response to a debt crisis and often combined with privatization — was frequently touted by many politicians and economists as the ONLY way out of the hole that had been dug for us by the bankers. In nation after nation, public services were cut, wages and pensions were frozen and the funding for all that was deemed inessential was reduced. Public assets were often sold to private corporations to quickly raise money.

As a result, health, infrastructure and education (amongst much else) suffered, and a swath of folks increasingly felt left behind. Not just felt, they WERE left behind. The outcome was a fair amount of resentment, which gets expressed politically in the divisions and populism we see rising everywhere. Economically these policies didn’t work all that well either.

This is not the place to go into the justifications and pressures that were used to implement austerity policies, rather, in the spirit of Reasons To Be Cheerful, I’d prefer to look at a successful alternative.

Here’s what happened in Portugal.

More here.