Another Krugman article about austerity, mostly in Britain, where austerity continues to hold sway even as much of continental Europe is embroiled in debates over it:
Unlike the governments of, say, Spain or California, the British government can borrow freely, at historically low interest rates. So why is that government sharply reducing investment and eliminating hundreds of thousands of public-sector jobs, rather than waiting until the economy is stronger?
Krugman answers the question by suggesting that running policy agenda that’s being disproven, all over again, we should consider the policy agenda as the end in itself:
So the austerity drive in Britain isn’t really about debt and deficits at all; it’s about using deficit panic as an excuse to dismantle social programs. And this is, of course, exactly the same thing that has been happening in America.
The big question here is whether the evident failure of austerity to produce an economic recovery will lead to a “Plan B.” Maybe. But my guess is that even if such a plan is announced, it won’t amount to much. For economic recovery was never the point; the drive for austerity was about using the crisis, not solving it. And it still is.
This is part of what I’ve been finding in my exploration of urban austerity: that the idea of crisis, which underlies the very notion of austerity, becomes the central driver of policy, policies that seem less about recovery than about punishment.