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David Cay Johnston argues that reducing government spending will result in declining incomes and a weaker economy in his column, “The Siren Call Of Austerity:”

The World Economic Forum opened in Davos amid choruses of central bankers and economists calling for governments to cut spending.

This message of austerity is like the call of the ancient Sirens, whose music lured sailors to shipwreck.

We should take a lesson from Odysseus, who poured wax into the ears of his crew and had himself lashed to the mast of his ship to resist the Siren call.

Austerity supporters are selling the idea that governments, like families, must cut back when income shrinks. But economically, governments are not like families.

Firing teachers, cops and government clerks will, for sure, reduce public spending. But budgets, like the song of the Sirens, are only part of the story. Listen only to the alluring lyrics and, like the many voyagers before Odysseus, we will suffer disastrous consequences – in our case falling incomes and worsening economies.

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President Joe Biden at signing ceremony for Inflation Reduction Act at White House on August 16, 2022

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

To readers of a certain age who grew up watching cowboy movies on TV, that timeless phrase signals a major plot development. Maybe the scheming rancher with the mustache is ordering his henchmen to saddle up. Alternately, a hero in a white hat may be entering the fray.

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