Another push for jobs by shifting the tax burden on workers…
… in Portugal.
Portugal’s Prime Minister announced on Friday that the government would raise workers’ social security contribution rates from 11% to 18% (about one month’s salary)… and decrease companies’ contribution rates from 23.5% to 18% in the same breath. The usual need for job creation is invoked as justificaion for the move… an interesting claim, especially in light of the current debates about “dead money” in Canada… It’ll be interesting to see if the Portugese government is more successful than the Canadian one in inducing investment from its corporations.
(To be fair, the government announced that it would also raise taxes on corporations and the rich (while taking away one month of public workers’ salaries). Rates are still to be announced, though, so the actual distribution of the burden remains to be seen.)
This austerity obsession is hard to understand. It is like a kind of economic anorexia — the more decision-makers starve their economies, the more they believe they are rolling in fat. Except the decision-makers themselves are more like Stalin, blaming the “peasants” for their lack of productivity, because the alternative is to admit that their whole belief system is utterly flawed.
Is the austerity agenda hard to understand? It is about creating a leaner, meaner version of neo-liberalism, which if you believe in capitalism to begin makes a lot of sense (within its own self-referencial logic). I am reminded of what Brecht said about the government of the GDR, “If the government has lost faith in the people, maybe the government should elect a new people.”