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AltAusterity Digest #35 February 15-21, 2018

This week in Austerity News:

Feb 23, 2018

Government figures in England have shown that since 2010, 508 children’s centres have closed. These closures are a result of funding cuts which have seen spending halved from £1.2bn to £0.6bn over the last 8 years. These centres offer a range of services ranging from “stay-and-play” to English and numeracy classes. Advocates for a reversal of the cuts say that the activities, resources and supports offered by these centres often benefit the most disadvantaged children.

Randy Bryce, a union ironworker challenging Paul Ryan in Wisconsin, is the first congressional candidate to have a unionized staff. The current imbalance of power between staffers and bosses is a long running problem in Washington including staff facing sexual harassment. The Campaign Workers Guild (CWG) has said that while it’s current focus is solely on those working on election campaigns, though they are open to expanding the types of workers they organize. Bryce has supported the unionization of his staff and hopes the CWG expand their scope to include congressional staff.

In an interview with San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, Democracy Now! discusses the privatization of Puerto Rico five months after Hurricane Maria. Cruz, an outspoken critic of the Trump administration’s handling of the crisis, criticized the “disaster economics” that are leading to major privatization drives. The two main sectors of privatization have been in energy and education, prompted in part in a denial of full funding for recovery. About a quarter of the island is still without electricity, making it the longest blackout in U.S. history.

A VICE article discusses how metaphors have been used to gain consent for austerity. Following the financial crisis, politicians used the metaphor of “the national credit card” which had been “maxed out,” and other similar narratives. Despite the misleading comparison to national finances, the metaphor struck a chord and has been used to trim back budgets akin to how one would in a household. Understanding how people think about the economy offers the potential for counter-narratives to austerity, so long as new narratives resonate and can be backed with achievable policy solutions.

That's it for this week's Digest! Check back next Friday morning for another edition, or subscribe to our newsletter for a weekly roundup. We'll also Tweet each time we add new content, so you can keep up with our work @AltAusterity and join the #altausterity conversation!