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Who Needs the Cuts?: Myths of the Economic Crisis Paperback – 25 Jan 2013


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Product details

  • Paperback: 100 pages
  • Publisher: Hesperus Press Ltd (25 Jan 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 184391381X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1843913818
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 12.7 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 532,222 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Barry Kushner is a Regeneration Consultant supporting organizations working in the Third Sector.

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Peter Easton on 26 May 2013
Format: Paperback
This book provides an excellent example of how mainstream journalists allow themselves to promote an establishment or even government narrative with little attempt to investigate and challenge. We see how once a `consensus' is established, most journalists seem to lack the courage or even just a professional curiosity to probe behind the official message. It seems, they don't want to rock the boat and at worst be side-lined for having eccentric views. Sticking with the official narrative is the safest way to play it.

The book focuses on the case made by the coalition government for austerity measures, and how so many leading journalists preferred to `go along' with an official narrative rather than probe for alternative view points, or even to challenge politicians on some very misleading statements.

We learn that while we were being told `the UK is on the brink of bankruptcy':
- National debt was half what it was when Harold MacMillan declared "you never had it so good" in 1957.
- National debt had been higher in 200 of the previous 250 years.
- UK had a lower national debt than USA, Germany, France and Japan.
- The recent rise in debt was not due to over-spending by the previous government, but due to a reduction in tax revenue, resulting from a rapidly slowing economy - which the cuts only slowed further, pushing the debt even higher.

Many similar examples of an alternative perspective are provided in a very readable account.

The book makes a clear case that there was a valid alternative to severe austerity. In fact, we have seen since, some commentators, and even the IMF coming round to a similar view. It also highlights the very questionable policies of bailing out the banks at any cost, while letting the rest of society take the blame and the pain.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Gary Clarke on 17 May 2013
Format: Paperback
The authors wrote this book after becoming exasperated at the cuts narrative and its one-sided portrayal in the media and the fact anyone proposing an alternative was branded a `deficit denier'. As the authors point out `deficit deniers' were castigated as wicked, immoral people using emotive language redolent of attacks on Holocaust deniers.

They were also exasperated at how the media and politicians were able to turn a banking crisis with its roots in the USA into one of overspending by the UK government, even after Mervyn King had stated "the billions spent bailing out the banks and the need for public sector spending cuts were the fault of the financial services sector".

The BBC is a particular target for the Kushner's ire for their decision to ignore the views of Nobel Prize winning economists who were saying the sovereign risks to the UK were being exaggerated. They quote a bizarre statement from the BBC saying "..... the BBC is not required to cover the countervailing view .... on the deficit and on the spending review and cuts in order to achieve due impartiality". As the Kushner's ask angrily, but how else can it be done?

The book is divided into sections on the debt narrative and how the media and politicians set up this storyline; the history of debt and deficit in the UK; an explanation of government spending and income; what caused the deficit, where income, tax revenues and unemployment are studied; the banks and the role they played in causing the deficit via `casino banking' and government bailouts; a section where the authors argue the cuts narrative is a political not economic argument; and finally a chapter where alternatives to cuts are explored.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Darren Hardy on 14 April 2013
Format: Paperback
A book everyone MUST read. Especially BBC journalists! Insightful, considered and ploughs through the fog of opinion, obfuscation and rhetoric which has characterised the debate around Austerity
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By William Mash on 8 Aug 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Kushner brothers have put together an eminently readable book which ought to be read by both politicians and journalists.

Why do we so easily accept the assertion that the former Labour Government was responsible for profligate spending fuelled by excessive borrowing? A graph on page 56 shows that from 1997-98 to 2007-08 borrowing was consistently far lower than during the 1991-92 to 1996-97 period of Conservative government. I had heard the opposite story so often that I checked it out from the original data. It is easy to retrieve on the Office for Budget Responsibility web site.

I have ordered Alistair Darling's "Back from the Brink" because he at least could see clearly what happened. "Between 1979 and 1997 the Conservative government borrowed on average 3.4 per cent of national income; between 1997 and 2007, Labour's borrowing averaged 1.2 per cent". Of course for the years 2008-09 and 2009-2010 borrowing hit the heights. This was nothing to do with overspending on public services and benefits, and everything to do with baling out the banking sector.

The Kushners challenge many details of the single narrative that is coming from the government, the BBC and even, it seems, the Bank of England. Throughout their work I trace the fact that they are writing from a genuine concern for real people, the most vulnerable of whom are suffering most from the effects of the austerity agenda.

They deserve to be heard and the single narrative must be challenged.

My only caveat are some points of detail. Another edition of the book could benefit from careful proof reading.
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