Reading through Austerity Blues, I had a hard time thinking of what an argument for austerity could possibly be. I know I live in a quasi Democratic/Socialist bubble, but how could the erosion of publicly funded good lead to anything but a further reliance on public goods. If you decrease the quality, breath, and depth of public assistance without any policy in place for a transition (i.e.: getting individuals off unemployment via job training or an increase in civil job opportunities), you’re leaving already vulnerable citizens in an increasingly vulnerable position.
I thought about Paul Krugman (currently on the GC’s faculty, I know this is controversial) and what a large Keynesian he is. Increased spending doesn’t just seem like an option for getting over deficits, it seems like the only one.
Public education is a clear investment into the future. An educated (of we could debate what this means and the white supremacist ideal of being “well educated”) population makes for a more productive population (a capitalistic ideal). I’m not advocating that we strive for a high-earning population, but it appears to me, individuals who graduate from college are more likely to find long-term employment and have high earning potential than not. This is to say if we subsidize education, are we not paying it forward? Are we not shepherding in a generation that will go on to be less reliant on public “handouts?”
In a sense, I’m oversimplifying this, and perhaps relying too much on the myth of social mobility, but a BA (or even an Associates) from any university, public or private, increases the number of positions you’re qualified to hold, and you’re in a place where you can continue on to more schooling if that’s of interest.
Eve, the argument *for* austerity is pretty fascinating insofar as austerity gives the illusion that it’s the only option. That is, it naturalizes the deprivations that it, in fact, manufactures. The concept of “the market” employs a similar sleight of hand, and this includes the academic job market that is produced by the managed university.
Marc Bousquet (How the University Works) is good here. He says that the chief characteristic of the managed university (roughly the post-1980s austerity-embracing university) is its ability to present itself as though there were no alternative to how the university now works—even though we know the university has not always worked this way in the past. The evolution of the so-called “job market” as an unfortunate but status-quo feature of academic life offers perhaps the best example of how a managerial mindset penetrates as irresistible cultural condition, “as if ‘market-driven’ indicated imperatives beyond the human and political, of necessity itself, rather than the lovingly crafted and tirelessly maintained best-case scenario for the quite specific minority interest of wealth (Bousquet 91)” The university has been “wildly successful” in engineering a culture that seems to be made of nothing so much as of necessity (13).
Thank you for your comment Professor Brim– I think after last week’s class, what struck me most is this idea of necessity. There’s a component of gaslighting involved. It’s as if a to say, not only do we need to do this, but we’re becoming more efficient and better functioning by rearranging costs (and priorities)– ultimately this will help you!
There’s so much to say of this in the workplace. For instance, I work at a tech ed company, and while it is tech, they’re so many other components of the product that matter, and it is very clear (they don’t even hide it) that the engineers are considered the most skilled and the biggest contributors, despite everyone else working extremely hard.