Poverty of the state? The state of poverty

88 Fleet Street, 88 Fleet Street, EC4Y 1DH London

With the advent of the financial crisis of 2008 and the following world-wide general economic crisis living conditions for many people deteriorated. Furthermore, this crisis and the reaction to it by capitalist states led to a sovereign debt crisis which governments responded to with further large scale but this time planned impoverishment: austerity.

In this series of three evening workshops we want to give an introduction to how the state finances itself – and what for – in order to explain why the state implements austerity and how this economic system presupposes and reproduces poverty in boom and bust.

All workshops are open to all. In particular, no prior knowledge of finance or political jargon is required.

Taxes

That austerity is somehow related to how the state finances itself is well known. It then presents a bit of a riddle how someone with the power to raise taxes – i.e. chooses how much money to earn – can be in trouble with paying the bills. Indeed, one response to austerity – by groups like UK Uncut and beyond – is to remind the state of its tax raising powers and to demand “tax the rich” to plug the hole in public finances. So why isn't this happening?

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Sovereign Debt

In this workshop we don't want to focus directly on the current crisis but ask what is in crisis. We want to present and discuss what sovereign debt is, how it works, who the investors are and what makes sovereign debt an interesting investment to them.

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Austerity

In this workshop we want to present and discuss what the bedroom tax has to do with the UK's AAA rating, why benefit cap is an apt austerity measure even though it only affects a small minority of people, why the government puts pressure on people to find work in a time of mass unemployment and why the government's agitation against “benefit scroungers” is agitation not only against people on benefits but also against other workers.

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