We have heard a lot of late about austerity; the people of Greece have been told they must tighten their belts; in Britain there is an ongoing programme of cuts; Americans too are told they are living beyond their means, even though home repossessions are at a record high, and tent cities can be found all across that once great nation.
People are being told to tighten their belts for what, exactly? So that, in the words of British Prime Minister David Cameron, we can pay down the deficit. In practice, this means we must cut public services: hospitals, schools, libraries, care for the elderly, in order to give money to banksters. The money that would have been used to pay for those services is to go to the men in suits in the City of London and elsewhere, so they can do what with it?
To understand the true meaning of austerity and cuts, I want you to do a little thought experiment. Imagine three of the richest men in the world: Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and Mark Zuckerberg are on a boat in the middle of the Pacific, and they are shipwrecked. They end up on Henderson Island, where nearly two hundred years ago the crew of a whaling vessel ended up, in terrible circumstances. If you know the song Nantucket Sleighride, you'll understand what I mean.
So they climb into the lifeboat, all three of them, the somewhat elderly Buffet first, then Gates, then Zuckerberg, who has been thoughtful enough to bring a special envelope with him.
They alight on Henderson Island, and Warren Buffet turns to the other two and says, “Damn, I left my phone behind”.
“Me too”, says Bill Gates, “did you bring yours, Mark?”
“No”, says the Facebook whizz-kid, “but don't worry, look, I brought this”.
“Ah, so you did”, says Warren Buffet.
“What is it?” asked Bill.
“It's those bonds, you remember?”
Bill certainly did, because it was his idea. They'd had a hectic month meeting world leaders, playing golf and attending that software convention. Their plan was to take a cruise in the South Pacific en route to Fiji where they were going to present the founder of that anti-poverty action group with a cheque for $5 billion. Buffet and Gates had contributed the lion's share, but Zuckerberg had planned to donate another $5 billion after his company was floated on the stock market.
“Er, what are supposed to do with it?” asked the older man.
“It's $5 billion”, said Zuckerberg with his youthful enthusiasm.
“So?” said Buffet.
“Well, what can you buy with $5 billion?” asked the young geek, “Heck, what can't you buy? A boat. A plane. Man, we could stay here for a while, we could hire a trailer each, or buy one each”.
Bill Gates raised his head, turned to Zuckerberg and wondered what he'd been smoking. Maybe he'd banged his head when he jumped into the lifeboat.
“You think we should buy a trailer a piece?” he asked.
“Sure thing, Bill”, he said.
Buffet shook his head, turned to him and asked quietly, “From whom?”
Do I need to expand on this? If you take the richest men in the world and dump them on a barren island with a billion dollars, five billion dollars or all the gold in Fort Knox, they will starve, because you can't eat money. You can't ride or drive to work in money. You can't use money in lieu of a dialysis machine, a telephone, or even a can opener.
So our governments are making cuts - ie destroying the real wealth of our communities - in order to give money to banksters, who will do what with it? Play stupid games shifting it around in order to create more money - and more debt for us to service.