I guess one word had to be, so why not austerity? Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, fitted the crown to austerity based upon the 250,000 searches on its free online tool. It seems coverage of the so-called “debt crisis” led readers to find out what the coverage meant.
Austerity is a fine word, though not as telling as austere, as in he entered the room and noticed the very austere appointments. But while economics is not literature, if media coverage of our nation’s financial state improves our literacy so be it. Cut the budget and raise reading scores – I like it.
This is not to deny that austerity has legitimate meanings in the field of economics, it does. It connotes a policy of deficit cutting, lower spending, etc. Those are good things, and things that many voted for on November 2nd. I like that too.
But in common parlance, day-to-day language austerity is not, I think, what the people want. I for one don’t need to see austere appointments in classrooms, or the VA hospital, for government to work for me. I think people who call for that miss the point.
Just a bit of sanity would be nice. Don’t reduce everyone’s “benefits” under an austerity policy or pledge, rather determine the proper role of government and fund that well. Government is not unlike our homes where revenue and expenses are concerned. And truthfully, few of us only want our needs funded. We have our wants too. But there is a limit.
The good news is that shoppers this Christmas season seemed not to have visions of austerity dancing in their heads. They spent, and spent again. Wahoo! By most reports I have seen to date retail has been hot, both online, and in stores. Even cars are moving, new cars, and they are priced well. And not just austere cars either, fully 50 percent of new auto purchases are trucks and SUV’s.
No, austerity in government sounds like waiting lines for needed medical services or medicines. Austerity sounds like “death panels” to do in grandma because we don’t have the money to keep her in assisted care or nursing care facilities. And austerity sounds like not having the support troops or equipment we need to back up warriors we have placed in harms way. I don’t like any of that.
But if austerity gets us thinking right about government spending then props to it. If it turns us from runaway deficits and even slows the rate of spending increase then I’m all for it. If it serves as a rallying cry to set tax policies that are not disincentives to business growth, hiring, and expansion, then let it reign.
If austerity can do all of this as our word of the year, then it gets my vote too. But first it will have to work through the extravagant and indulgent thinking of many big spenders in Congress. Maybe “November 2nd,” could be a good runner-up as word of the year.