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AltAusterity Digest #76 November 29 - December 5, 2018

This week in Austerity News:

Dec 07, 2018

On Tuesday, French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe announced that the French government will temporarily suspend its carbon tax plan after three weeks of nationwide protests and unrest. The stated goal of the taxes was to help curb climate change by placing a consumer tax on fuel. The gilets jaunes (yellow vests) protests have been supported by more than 70% of French voters as Macron’s approval rating has dipped to 23%. The attempt to increase consumption taxes on many working-class and middle-class citizens has caused the government to come under fire as being elitist, as Macron has long been labelled by critics as “the president of the rich.” Despite the announcement that the carbon tax will be suspended, protests are likely to continue.

Ontario’s Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk released her annual general report on Wednesday, investigating whether taxpayers are getting “value for money,” from various government programs and projects. The audits will largely focus on spending from the previous Liberal government, including Metrolink transit construction and the Darlington nuclear plant refurbishment. In a previous auditor general report, Lysyk estimated that P3 projects between 2003 and 2014 cost the province $8 billion more than traditional public procurement methods. Lysyk also critiqued the Wynne Liberals before the most recent election for underestimating the provincial deficit by more than $7.5 billion due to differences in accounting practices.

Jacobin has released an excerpt from A New Hope for Mexico (2018) by Mexican president-elect, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO). In the excerpt, the president-elect discusses privatization as a form of theft and the deepening state of inequality brought on by neoliberalism. Despite neoliberalism emerging in the 1980s in Mexico, AMLO points out that the benefits for Mexican citizens have yet to be conferred. Despite privatizing the communications system early into Mexican neoliberalism, the price and quality of both phone and internet services has consistently ranked far below other members of the OECD. AMLO calls for an end to the neoliberal agenda in Mexico which has consisted of policies geared towards “appropriation for the few.”

New research shows that public spending has increased in the south of England since the financial crisis but has fallen in real terms in the north. The Institute for Public Policy North found that public spending has increased by £3.2 billion in the south-east and south-west, though spending in London was down £1.1 billion. By comparison, spending in the north was down £6.3 billion. This spending gap has been matched with a pay gap, and a growing divide in wealth and life expectancy. Education, transport and policing faced the biggest cuts. While weekly wages have fallen 3.3% nationally in real terms since 2008, the decline in the north is 3.8%. While the north of England saw the biggest drop in public spending, London, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales also saw declines that were greater than the national average.

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!