Q: Isn’t austerity actually about reducing government spending while trying to increase revenues to address debt? Why are you saying it’s about sacrificing the common good for corporate profit?
A: Reducing spending while raising taxes is what they say austerity is. But in every case where the word has been used, corporate taxes are reduced or left alone. In the UK, activists determined that enforcing payment of billions in taxes owed by a few corporations could actually reverse some of the bigger cuts to spending. Similar “oversights” in revenue collection, and lavish corporate subsidies are a regular feature of austerity policies.
So we feel it’s a little disingenuous to say that it’s about cutting spending. Austerity is actually about cutting spending that benefits the majority, while continuing to subsidize corporate profits through attacks, cuts and exploitation of natural resources.
Q: Do you think that it will get better we get rid of the Conservatives?
A: No one can deny that the Conservatives have been exceptional in the aggressive way they have attacked things like unions and equal pay for women while supporting American military occupations.
However, the austerity agenda doesn’t come from political parties; it’s an ideology that is driven by powerful corporate interests. The austerity agenda took center stage with the Liberal government from 1993 to 2006 that came before Stephen Harper. Chretien and Martin made deep cuts to health care, public services, and cut corporate taxes.
At the provincial level, every party has implemented austerity measures. Even the NDP is not immune!
Q: If we can’t get rid of austerity by changing parties, what will work?
A: No one has all the answers yet, but the issue is one of rebalancing the power between corporate interests and popular interests. Society-wide mobilizations like we’re seeing in Quebec have scored victories and brought down a government.
It is our firm belief at Smart Change that to achieve long-term victories against the austerity agenda, movements must have a life independent of political parties, and form a long-term counterweight to corporate power no matter who is in power.
Q: Is this the end of the FAQ?
A: Only for now. If you have a question you'd like us to answer, email [email protected]