Should 'austerity' be a dirty word?

“Voter Anger Sweeps Europe,” screams the Wall Street Journal the morning after elections in Europe.

Oh my! Are we to feel sorry for the people of Europe because they are angry at their government for not continuing the handouts?

What…can they no longer live without the socialist supports for a languorous lifestyle? Are we to feel sorry for them because they want their government supported lifestyle back…those short work weeks, the long vacations, fully supported retirements and government supported health care?

The incredible selfishness driving the voters of Europe boggles the mind. Have they no understanding of how precarious their lifestyle is?

In France, industrial production is down; consumer prices are up, in March the unemployment rate was close to 10%.

In Greece, the statistics are similar, only with the unemployment rate around 20%.

The economy in all of Europe, and most countries around the world, is in rough shape and the voters yet are demanding more handouts, angry that their governments say they can’t afford them.

Here in the United States, we see a similar attitude in the Occupy Wall Street crowd. Their attitude conveys a “We deserve what the rich have” – forget about the fact most of the rich earned their money. What is it the people who demand larger and continued government handouts don’t understand?

As Governor John Kasich of Ohio put it, “There is no money.”

Government overspending has helped to bring our economy into what is now called the “Great Recession.” The president’s vaunted stimulus packages didn’t stimulate private sector jobs.

Since Obama came into office, America has lost a net of 740,000 according to Elizabeth McDonald of the Fox Business network. Housing prices are down, food costs are up, health care costs are up. Large numbers of people who were formerly looking for work have become discouraged and simply stopped looking. There are fewer jobs.

Meanwhile, the Occupy Wall Streeters are busy planning their next rage rumble, demanding more taxes on the rich and more government support.

Waving signs, shouting loud slogans, striking at the factories that have been paying you to put bread on your table won’t put more real money in your pocket.

If you want to lose weight, put down that fork. In the present US economy, we all need to step back from the trough. Now is a good time, before this government’s spending forces another reduction in our national credit rating.


It will take a disciplined approach on the part of our elected officials to carefully lift the economy from its current precariousness. Call it whatever you want, but without a strong dose of self-control now, our country can expect to be in the shoes of Greece sometime in the future.

The question is whether the citizens of America have the backbone and willingness to be unselfish in their demands and self-interested enough to do what has to be done to secure a future for the nation. Austerity is not a dirty word. In fact, in a well thought out design, it is a road to the future.

Republican Sue Kelly represented New York's 19th District in the House of Representatives from 1995 to 2007.