It's been a very bad week for the merchants of austerity. In Europe, the just-released statistics on first quarter performance show EU nations sliding deeper into recession. In Spain and Greece, unemployment rates are approaching a staggering 30 percent. In Britain, the Tory government took as good news the fact that the UK managed to eke out 0.3 percent growth. Even Germany, the prime sponsor of these policies, is on the edge of recession. You don't promote growth by slashing demand. Supposedly, fiscal tightening improves business confidence. But if some entrepreneur somewhere decided to break ground for a new factory because the president and Congress at last cut the budget, nobody could find such a person. Even the Washington Post editorial page, which has long been promoting a budget bargain built on more cuts, warned in its lead Sunday editorial, that austerity is pinching too hard -- in Europe, that is. How about at home?
If you are under 40, your generation is getting utterly screwed compared to mine, and you should be in the streets. There are plenty of injustices in this country, but they have little to do with old versus young and everything to do with the one percent versus everyone else. You don't have to cut my Social Security benefits to give your generation a decent break. The secret sauce of my generation was that when I was young, prosperity was widely shared, ladders were plentiful, and tax rates were progressive. If gazillionaires pay their fair share, and we invest adequately in the young, there's no reason why Generations Y and Z can't enjoy the same economic tailwind that my generation did. That, however, will not just happen. It requires a politics -- and not the politics of young versus old, much less the politics of austerity.