The Revolution Will Not Be Actualized is a series about austerity policy and the anti-cuts movement it spawned. After beginning to write a few articles, I realized that I needed to disclose why I was writing about austerity and what it means to me. The elimination of public services is not some abstract government policy; it is a lived experience. It is an experience that I am living right now.
My parents work for a small adoption agency that specializes in finding homes for Black children in the child-welfare system. This is arduous work, but I have seen the reward that comes with giving a child a chance to know love. There was a child with severe autism that rendered him unable to speak and made it difficult for him to remain in one place or follow instructions. My father made it his mission to find this boy a home that could cater to his specific needs, and he eventually succeeded in finding a Black two-parent family for this child. After being in the home for three months, the boy could now communicate, follow instructions, and have self-control. Because of the work my father did, this boy now had a chance to experience a loving home, and it has completely altered the course of his life.
This boy’s transformation is a powerful story, but it is not profitable work. The agency was dependent on state funding. Over twenty years, the agency has placed a large number of Black children, many with disabilities like the boy mentioned above. These children are often forgotten, and without advocates they are more likely to have negative life-outcomes.
As the state has reduced and eliminated funding for services, my parent’s agency was caught in the line of fire. Austerity policy compromised their life’s work, and additionally, jeopardized the lives of the children trapped in the dysfunctional child-welfare system. What will happen to the children who get left behind? Who will speak for them? The idiom of the day regarding the national and state debt is that “We cannot mortgage our children’s futures” by funding social programs today. However, it is clearly ok with them to sacrifice these children, the ones undervalued in this society.
Watching the collapse of my parents’ work to advocate for the neglected children in the child-welfare system has been difficult. It is unbearable to know that they and the children they represented were sacrificed due to austerity policy. This inequality is not some kind of design flaw, one that can be corrected with regulation, but it is inextricably embedded in capitalism’s very design. Again, austerity and the cuts to vital public services are lived experiences. So, seeing my parents work and livelihood compromised has ensured that I will never trust in market capitalism and the “American Dream.” The people for whom the system is structured, corporations and their gate-keepers, are the people who benefit the most from its preservation using austerity measures.
I will never aspire to be in their numbers, one of capitalism’s success stories, because I have seen that their thrones sit on the corpses of the poor, the disabled, and anyone deemed to be unprofitable.