The Great Experiment: Early Results 

By Shlomo Maital   




A massive experiment is underway. Despite the Helsinki Convention, you and I are the subjects, even though we have not given our permission.  Early results are in.

   The experiment is this:   Hypothesis – budget austerity creates economic growth and wellbeing.  The subjects:  Europeans, plus those who trade with them.  Control group: America.

    Europe, led by Germany, imposes fiscal austerity on Greece, Ireland, Spain and other nations, causing social unrest, protests, deep unemployment (over 20% in Greece and Spain, and even Serbia).  It’s for your good, say the Germans (and the reluctant French, under Sarkozy).

   America, stymied by vetocracy (Fukuyama’s term for political deadlock, where each political party vetoes anything the other party wants) has massive deficits and is unable and unwilling to fix them.  So America is the control group for European budget austerity.

   Which of the two is doing better?

   Europe is now mired in recession, officially.   America is growing faster, with lower unemployment and better job creation.

   The verdict, so far, is in.  Austerity doesn’t work.  As NYT reporter Jack Ewing notes in the Global New York Times today, “Everyone in Europe seems to agree that government austerity has been overdone.”  

    What infuriates me, and blows all my fuses, is that top experts have been warning about this for years.  You cannot grow an economy by shrinking it. It’s that simple.  This experiment has been done on human beings.  Greeks are committing suicide, 40% increase in suicides since 2010, because of it.  Europe’s German-led austerity is a war crime.   America is fortunate; the Republicans pay lip service to cutting spending but in fact, it is they who created the deficits. First, under Reagan and Bush the father, dumping a massive budget deficit on Clinton’s shoulders in 1992 (he fixed it), and then, under George Bush the son, whose tax cuts created the massive budget deficit Obama faces now.  Fortunately, political deadlock has kept America from the austerity that is ruining Europe.       

     I live in Israel. Israel’s economy has so far weathered the crisis better than many other nations, partly because of an enlightened and experienced Central Bank Governor Stanley Fisher.  But even Israel is now sinking because of Europe.  So, I intend to protest, that I and billions of others worldwide are subjects of an unauthorized experiment in Europe, that is causing pain and suffering.  It’s time Europe woke up!  When 11 leaders are dumped in elections in recent years, including the latest Sarkozy, don’t Germany and Europe get the message?

   In the notorious Tuskegee Experiments, in 1932, black American men were given syphilis, purposely, then allowed to die (while being told they were getting treatment) so that data could be collected from autopsying their bodies.  Today this is illegal. Yet the austerity experiments continue.  In the end, all those who authorize or support such experiments will pay the price.