Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Deadly Semantics of Austerity

Many world leaders are calling for a period of "austerity." A workable definition of austerity is "severe or strict in manner; having no comforts or luxuries." Austerity is an absolute. There's no room for hope. It's a word that says, "Give up."

Angela Merkel of Germany, Enda Kenny of Ireland, and David Cameron of Britain have all declared that they are going to enter a period of austerity to pay for their excessive borrowing in the past. This is a noble gesture, I think, that can also be incredibly painful, depending on how healthy you were when you started. Life is very difficult in Ireland right now. 40,000 people have fled the country in 2011 in search of a better life elsewhere.   

When governments cut spending there is going to be pain, but I contend that instead of telling people they will have no comforts or luxuries for the next five to ten years, simply state,

"The public sector is going to be fiscally responsible. Let's make this work."

That simple change in language invites innovation and possibilities. The challenges remain the same, but we are no longer at the affect of the economy. The economy is what it is, now what? What are we going to do about it?

Are you aware of the language you use on a day-to-day basis in your professional life? Small changes can have dramatic effects. Always leave the door open for innovation.

1 comment:

@stevegolab said...

Change the conversation and you can change the culture. Love your thinking on this Patrick.