Our New Piece at Aljazeera: “The shutdown is over, but the austerity fight continues”

I hope Naked Capitalism readers will check out our new article at Aljazeera, The shutdown is over, but the austerity fight continues. I’ve been writing exclusively at Naked Capitalism for the last two years (the one exception was an article at The New Republic) and as much as it’s extremely difficult for me to find time to do anything additional, I thought Aljazeera could be an attractive venue, since its readership does not overlap much with ours.

One of the good things about Aljazeera is they did not attempt to dumb the argument down (which I’ve had happen at certain publications that will go unnamed) and when some issues needed unpacking to make them more accessible to non-finance readers, they increased the word budget beyond the original limit.

The opening paragraphs:

The bruising battle on Capitol Hill over the debt ceiling is not over. It has simply been postponed until a longer-term budget negotiation. Congress has agreed to fund the government through Jan. 15 and extend its borrowing authority through Feb. 7, at which point the turmoil of the past few weeks might recur.

Although the immediate goal of tea party Republicans in Congress was to defund President Barack Obama’s health care law, it is important not to lose sight of their larger purpose. The recent drama is only the latest battle in a decades-long war by radical conservatives, joined by pro-business interests in both parties, to gut the governmental supports for the middle and lower classes responsible for America’s postwar prosperity. The mystery is why politicians and pundits tout austerity policies despite ample evidence that they are damaging and counterproductive.

The article continues here. Hope you enjoy it!

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  1. Terez

    I come from that small overlap, I suppose. I read this blog because of the concise explanations; often the content is over my head, but when it is not, I am enlightened and empowered to change minds around me. Of all the regular newsfeed criers available to me, Aljazeera is generally the most informative. I hope to see you there more often because I know you have so much more to say that the general public needs to hear.

    1. Benedict@Large

      Second the motion. NC needs more exposure among the general public, and AJ’s a good place to find it.

  2. Cassiodorus

    As I’ve been arguing for quite some time now at dailykos.com, there are two dominant right-wing groups in American politics — the antipublic conservatives and the corporate conservatives. “Liberalism” in this scheme is the facade through which the latter group disguises its conservatism.

    1. J Sterling

      It’s the old conservatives v. liberals struggle going back to the Corn Laws in England in the nineteenth century, and even to France in the eighteenth century Enlightenment (where the word “left” was first used). One group wants its property to bring them more rent, and the other group wants its workers to make them more profit.

      Vampires are fighting zombies, and they want to know whose side I’m on.

  3. AbyNormal

    OhMyAllah! How DO you find the time?
    Eisenhower quote/reference(s)…pile-driving!
    you even made the leach metaphor verifiable.

    Again, you’ve honored this long time reader,

    1. charles sereno

      A very well written piece by Yves but I missed the typos and irregularities of NC (which never bothered my comprehension) because they offered an insight to the inner workings of an interesting mind. I refrained from saying “beautiful mind” because that would be considered flattery, wouldn’t it?
      PS: Here’s a link to the Follette and Sheiner 2008 paper mentioned by Yves. It’s similar to a Vox EU article but longer and much more substantive.


  4. rob

    It is good that someone is speaking of the context of the “long game”, and how it is played out in these contemporary skirmishes.
    I think that bringing up things like the “powell memo”, and its implications and the myriad of think tanks and pundits and voices in the wind, that have propagandized generations of americans ;should be done as often as possible.
    The movie “Heist:Who stole the American dream”, does a good job at showing what goals were there at the point in time of powell’s memo,written for the chamber of commerce/business roundtable of the day.to today, where those goals are coming to fruition.Like every seeming “non-conspiracy;conspiracy”,the troops marching forward tend to have no idea they are going according to some plan.The reality is that the human condition has been “gamed” for so long, we really do tend to follow along prescribed lines, we never even read. Those in the know, call it “gradualism”. Those who can’t contemplate “the big lie”, can’t believe they are part of something much larger than themselves. When some entities have a never ending stream of money, like a river. It erodes the society it runs through.
    These “communities of intrest”,are the mass of the “invisible hand”, that move our economic present.
    after all, if in the last forty years, the majority of working class labor, saw the rise in their relative incomes, as did the upper crust. ours would be a radically different NOW.
    Part of the “problem”, we have seen in these last forty years is the same people who stole the American dream, are also the ones who can’t seem to allow anyone else to have any “good” dreams ,either. For all over the world, these are the corporate titans who set political policy directives, who propped up tyrants and murderers, who will pilfer every peoples resources for their gain.
    the republicans and their democratic counterparts, are just a bunch of fools, who get paid to screw as many people as possible, and damn near every living thing.
    opening up in places like Al-Jazeera, is a good thing. We are all on the other side, to our leaders.

  5. Richard Lyon

    When people make the argument that austerity policies don’t produce growth and consumer demand they are essentially speaking from a Keynesian perspective that has been abandoned by the financial elite that is pulling the strings. They are interested in putting their wealth on the global crap table and don’t see US and European consumers as an attractive investment.

    1. JTFaraday

      Separating our governing institutions and the financial sector would be a good start, but alas, what ails the US is not going to be resolved through the mere imposition of the “correct” economic policy.

      Is it not as if a governing elite, this one or some other one, could not possibly twist Lord Keynesian economics into something one would never want to see.

      I suppose people could still argue that they want to pick their poison, and this is the one they choose.

  6. Z

    Excellent article. I am glad that you are getting larger platforms.

    In good news … potentially … Harry Reid is putting Bernie Sanders on the budget conference committee set up to end the sequestration and develop a budget deal. Sanders can be more windbag than someone who actually sticks up for his purported principles, but it probably beats having him in there than damn near any other senator appointed to the committee.



  7. diptherio

    Very well written piece, Yves. You lay out the evidence of malfeasance in a way that I think even the un-initiated in these matters will find easy to grok.

  8. Emma

    Yves – I second Diptherio, and well done!

    Aside from the necessity, it is more than high time, that we see your audience broaden through other channels as well.

    Already a part of that (growing?) overlap contingent Terez refers to above, I expect that your article will have resonance with the majority of Al Jazeera readers.

    More importantly however, it would be most opportune if the piece were syndicated in other more widely read (and watched) American news journals for obvious reasons not worth mentioning as you doubtless recognize.

  9. Wat Tyler


    Cannot serve request to /watch/channel-finder-results/ on this server”

    Response to using the search function on Aljazeera.com for local TV coverage. Perhaps not surprising given I usr TWC as internet and cable provider but the server did return Yves article. Odd.


  10. TheCatSaid

    Excellent piece.

    A key point: “. . . assuming the objective is to reduce the level of government debt rather than make the rich even richer.”

    This assumption is the elephant in the room. The long-range policies and strategies you describe, including current “austerity” measures, are indeed designed to make the rich even richer and protect the interests of TPTB. The massive wealth transfer from the less well off to those higher up on the financial pyramid is a feature, not a bug, from the standpoint of those who designed and successfully implemented these strategies.

    The public good is NOT the goal.

    Reclaiming our power as engaged citizens requires that we first recognize these are not implementation of poorly thought-out policies (e.g., “austerity”) that “don’t work”. Rather, they have been extremely successful policies from the perspective of those who designed them and carried them out. These policies do indeed “work”–it’s just that they were never intended to work on behalf of the 99.99%

  11. mrtmbrnmn

    Well done. Al-Jazeera will be a better news & commentary operation having folks like you writing for them. Unless they drink the USA media Kool-Aid and become just another delivery device for advertising over content…

    As for the shutdown/debt ceiling “settlement”. You’re right,Yves. And others agree. This a long con they are working…


  12. Z

    Oh, what beautiful and disarming smiles our ruling class possess … like uncle rupert, petey peterson, robber rubin, the koch brothers, and such. They must practice or go to some school to learn them. Because they know that people are way too influenced by superficial bs like smiles and good manners. Hell, the most useful tool in any conmen’s toolbox is a disarming smile.

    But behind their impressive superficialities, lie some truly disgusting human beings … as are those in our government that carry out their plans against us. Their ploy is to try to disguise the class warfare that they are perpetrating against us by attempting to get us to fight each other via a generational warfare (and on a smaller note, these “classy” people are so undignified and desparate about it that they have useful fellow scumbags like alice rivlin, david walker and the cow teat squeezer himself, alan simpson, dancing around gangnam style like a bunch of fools to sell it). Like Bernie Sanders recently said: can you imagine being as filthy rich as the koch brothers and spending so much time and money on trying to kill innocent people by systematically taking away thier means to survive?

    Our rulers are very civil … on the outside … and have impeccable table manners, but it’s difficult to be impressed by their beautiful, disarming smiles and lovely table manners when they are serving innocent people for desert who have never done a damn thing wrong to them.


  13. Dave

    Fantastic! Great to see you branching out. Your’s (collectively) is a rare source of sanity and a badly needed counter-weight to all the crap out there.

    Very happy to see this.

  14. Kim Kaufman

    Another chorus from me that it’s good to see your work reaching new audiences.

    And @Z re Reid putting Sanders on the committee – yes, Reid seems to have grown a pair.

  15. peace

    Cohesive, well supported argument.

    I am personally a fiscal conservative for practical reasons and this seeps into my broader views of institutional and national policy. However, the key point is to save for rainy days and it’s raining now. You point out that conservatives’ long term agenda is to gut social programs and they are using debt as a guise to pursue this agenda – and lying about economic theory and evidence that supports rainy day spending as beneficial to long and short term outcomes.

    Rhetorically you are extremely skilled. You did a good job of explaining the concept of debt-to-GDP interdependence “Cutting the numerator (government spending) typically winds up shrinking the denominator (the size of the economy) even more.” However, now I cannot remember the economic term for this effect – a term I learned here on NC. If I recall correctly it involves individuals’ saving too much during a crisis – partially due to signals that “the government isn’t spending, so I shouldn’t spend either.”

    Some of my work regards legitimation processes; so, I wish you had included something about how the conservatives consciously attempt to delegitimize the government as a method to achieve their goal of reducing social programs (while increasing private FIRE and security industries – sometimes hypocritiically funded by the government they claim to want to shrink).

    I don’t know if Yves or anyone is still reading these comments, but I am busy and can only comment intermittently.

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