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AltAusterity Digest #56 July 12-18, 2018

This week in Austerity News:

Jul 20, 2018

Amnesty International has released a report outlining the “cruelty” of austerity measures in Chad. Over the last four years, the health budget has been slashed by 50%, students have been forced to choose between classes and work, and anti-austerity protesters have been repressed, arrested, and (in two cases) tortured. The austerity measures were first implemented in 2015 following the onset of economic crisis brought on by tumbling crude oil prices. Amnesty is calling on the Chadian government to immediately address the negative impacts of austerity, and uphold the people’s rights to health and education, and to stop repressive tactics.

As extreme weather events become more common due to climate change, Toronto’s park budget has been found to be $25 million short to combat rising flood and wind damage. Current funding includes $3.5 million for extreme weather repairs, but the remaining $24.7 million “cannot be accommodated” within the Parks, Forestry and Recreation’s 10-year debt targets. John Tory has said that that he expects “funding for repairs will be approved as part of the 2019 budget debate.”

Last Thursday and Friday in Vermont, 1,800 nurses walked-out on strike against the University of Vermont Medical Center (UVM-MC). According to Bernie Sanders, UVM-MC spends more than $11 million per year on its top fifteen administrators. Management has defended these salaries by claiming that they are equitable with the “big league” hospitals in the region. On the other hand, RN compensation is determined by comparisons with RN pay in hospitals in rural Maine and New Hampshire. Some of the main targets of the nurses collective bargaining are increased staffing and fair pay, which they argue will reduce worker turnover, and contribute to better patient safety.

Now that the Republican tax-cuts have been in effect for half a year, Bloomberg looks at the outcomes for the economy. The fist outcome of note is that wages have not risen at all, and actually fell in the first quarter after the tax reform was passed. Although the tax cuts on their own could not be said to be fully responsible for declining wages, the intent of the tax bill – at least rhetorically – was to increase the purchasing power of workers. While private nonresidential fixed investment did increase following the two quarters since the tax cuts were passed, the levels are still below the high set in 2015.

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!