austerity does not work

The Price We Pay

A thought occurred to me when I saw the BBC headline this morning of the Queen and Prince William visiting the area of the Grenfell tower fire. A fire that has left 17 people confirmed dead with 76 missing.

Buckingham Palace: Receives £370m for refurbishment.

Grenfell Tower: Doesn’t receive £300,000 for a sprinkler system.

As pointed out by numerous voices, one example being Aamer Anwar, these people died because they were poor. They continually raised awareness that fire alarms didn’t work and lifts repeatedly stopped.

People jumped.

People who were on the lower floors hurled whatever they could at windows to try and wake people up. They are at outside the incident now wondering whether they should have bothered as they think it would have been better if their neighbours had died from smoke inhalation in their sleep rather than in a panic to escape.

Aamer Anwar, human rights lawyer and current rector of Glasgow University, has said that a government inquiry is not good enough as it allows the government to set the parameters. He pointed out examples like the Hillsborough disaster and Bloody Sunday and how the government continually white washes these to make no one, especially the government, look at fault.

He wants an independent inquiry and a criminal investigation. This happened as a result of Tory austerity and cuts to both social housing and to the emergency services. That blood is on their hands.

When Boris Johnson was mayor of London he oversaw the closures of dozens of fire stations. We had Labour leader to Tony Blair, John McTernan, saying that ‘Only 2% of a fireman’s time is spent fighting fires.’ You cannot afford to cut emergency services to save a quick buck. Austerity does not work.

According to Akala, rapper and poet, rich people living nearby complained that the tower block was an eyesore and urged a refurbishment. This refurbishment results in 'pretty panels’ being placed on the outside, according to Aamer Anwar these panels assisted the fire.

This is an absolute tragedy and it exposes the utter corruption at the heart of government and in Tory austerity policy. Like Anwar, we fucking hope it ends in criminal charges.

How Paul Ryan Won the Budget War: In 1 Chart

The budget wars are over, and the austerians won.

They won despite being wrong about everything. We aren’t Greece. Austerity doesn't help the economy grow. The bond vigilantes aren’t coming for us if we don’t cut Social Security. And there's no magic debt tipping point, above which growth disappears. No really, there isn’t.

But they still won. They won because counter-cyclical fiscal policy is counter-intuitive. Because it’s easier to convince people the government needs to act like a household and tighten its belt now, rather than loosen it. And because there’s nothing Washington’s professional “centrist” class loves more than a bipartisan deficit deal—preferably one that cuts Social Security and Medicare. As Ezra Klein points out, deficit reduction is the one thing that ostensibly neutral reporters can, and do, cheer for. As far as official Washington is concerned, it’s beyond argument that balancing the nation’s books is always good.

Read more. [Image: Reuters]

the STATEMENT NECKLACE is, exactly, preemptive, a scare. a minimalist intervention in consumer morality. a plea to purchase in spite of [the recession] in the name of thrift which served itself to convince women that there was [a recession] at all. an invention of a recession by way of recession ethics!: there is [a recession] so [you can’t afford to shop] but [you must shop, for us all] so [shop Correctly]. (you will recognize this from literature on women’s magazines during the first world war, domesticity campaigns of the 1930s, gendered world war ii propaganda, and so on.) 

the STATEMENT NECKLACE is about a post-Clinton assimilation by [fashion, women’s media, the public world of domesticity] of neoliberal market logic and its terrors wherein it is said that shopping is a matter of investments and economic decision-making with longterm impact and potential danger. (shopping is risky, shopping is rational, shopping is brave and necessary for our nation.) you invest in pieces that are supposed to “last” (”live”) a long time. lifespan here is determined aesthetically and materially: “investment pieces” are things that are not supposed to go out of style and things that are not supposed to fall apart. both of these categories are lies and both of these lies are essential to the fashion economy in the first decade of this century. 

the notion of durability–things that are not supposed to fall apart–is not, here, accompanied by any sort of material improvement in mass-production or increased consciousness about care and repair of clothing. it is arguably not accompanied by an increased awareness in production broadly, it is more likely accompanied by a lot of smokescreens about labor which likely have something to do with distancing consumers from the memories of the very public sweatshop crises of the late 1990s, but instead of being about labor it is about rebranding clothing ostensibly made in sweatshops as less cheap. it is clear that the middle and upper classes of mass retail are produced more “cheaply” and less durably than ever.

things that are not supposed to go out of style are alleged to be [ethically, aesthetically] neutral, here we see (not for the first time) a moralizing of neutral colors, which become (again) good, righteous, smart choices for the uncertain future. (today we are seeing repressive “minimalism,” as people say.) 

things that are not supposed to go out of style are also determined by genre, not necessarily by aesthetic features: the investment jean, the investment dress (the “lbd”), the investment blazer. it is essential that a [black blazer] from [target] can become a “staple,” standardized, eternal, so you must be distracted from the other categories through which datedness happens–fabrication, tailoring, ornament or its absence, nuance of color, stitching, relations with the body, yes even genre. distracted only long enough to convince you that a [black blazer] is true and eternal, not so long that you don’t eventually notice that its buttons are dated, throw it out and buy a new one.

there is an economic (moral) imperative to buy smartly, not unlike prewar consumption scripts about thrift and nationbuilding through domesticity and the body. there is, however, an equally (more?) powerful imperative to demonstrate through practice that the market invents the individual. from this emerges the accessories turn, where modularity is the solution, and personhood is expressed via combinations of elements chosen by consumers from a range of options. the accessory is posed as the primal, pleasurable opposite of the investment piece, the consumer’s reward for making the rational decision to buy the [allegedly timeless black slacks], but it is simply a parallel reinforcing mode of consumption. 

 while the logic of investment fashion alleges to foreclose ornament–the “smarter” lbd is, supposedly, without flourish–the (austere) unaccessorized woman is not sufficiently personalized. the STATEMENT NECKLACE does the work of demonstrating individuality and, of course, creating ways that people are convinced of the legitimacy of individuality, and the capacity of a consumer choice (the purchase of a STATEMENT NECKLACE) to be literally expressive.