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AltAusterity Digest #30 January 11-17, 2018

This week in Austerity News:

Jan 19, 2018

In a piece for Jacobin, author Lester Spence examines the effects of austerity measures in Baltimore. During last weeks “bomb cyclone” storm, one-third of the cities schools had significant heating issues, requiring students to huddle, freezing, in full winter gear during class time. Spence demonstrates that it is not necessarily a jurisdictional gap, or the availability of the funds that is at issue as billions of dollars in public funds have been used for “downtown tourist development,” through direct and indirect subsidies to private corporations and developers. It is the prioritization of spending – in part determined by race and class – that has left the education system substantially underfunded.

On Monday, Greek lawmakers passed new measures demanded by international creditors to cut benefits to large families and to limit union’s ability to strike. Specifically, benefits to families with more than three children were reduced, and unions will require more votes from members before calling a strike. The vote was protested by about 20,000 demonstrators in Athens who denounced the government’s “savage austerity.” Public transportation also came to a stand-still as workers walked off the job and some hospital and school workers walked out in solidarity with the unions.

On Monday, Tunisian police arrested 41 more anti-austerity protesters bringing the total to around 850 arrests. Anger at tax and price increases spurred the protests as the government attempts to bring down its budget deficit. Despite Tunisia’s democratic success in the aftermath of the Arab Spring, it has had nine governments since 2011, none of which have been able to resolve the country’s significant economic problems.

In an analysis of the relationship between austerity and migration, Hilmar Þór Hilmarsson focuses on the implications for the Baltic region. Aside from “brain drain,” and the associated losses in productivity and competitiveness, the emigration of the younger generations has lead to a demographic effect of aging the population with a shrinking tax base. This has resulted in increased pressures for social spending in the areas of health and pensions, despite the Baltic state’s economic growth lagging behind most of the EU’s.

That's it for this week's Digest! Check back next Friday morning for another edition, or subscribe to our newsletter for a weekly roundup. We'll also Tweet each time we add new content, so you can keep up with our work @AltAusterity and join the #altausterity conversation!