The Seattle Times Editorial Board is at it again.

This time, the writers want the City of Seattle to make hard choices to "get control" of its general fund (the City's largely unrestricted operating budget), which is expected to have a deficit "to the tune of $221 million" in 2025. (The general fund presently enjoys a surplus.) The Seattle City Council, at this moment, wants to answer the projected deficit with new, progressive revenue. It's in no mood for what the editorial board predictably sees as the best medicine for this situation: austerity.

The tack the board wants to take means only one thing: deep job cuts—and expect such cuts to fall on libraries rather than on police departments. The City's workforce, according to the Seattle Times, is too large and way overpaid: 

As of Aug. 16, the City of Seattle has 14,006 active employees, and approximately 6,320 of them have a base salary of at least $100,000 or more. That’s before overtime, which can add tens of thousands of dollars — and in rare cases, hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The average salary in Seattle is $75,594, according to ZipRecruiter, an online job board.

The problem not communicated by the Seattle Times is that the economy is growing but the budget is not. The budget they write today will serve as the baseline for 2025, which is ridiculous. Even if inflation grew at a respectable 2%, the costs of providing services in this city would run into trouble. But the board insists that the solution is not expansion but contraction, which would only mean a compacted decline in the quality of the city's services. No matter. The board turns away from this hard fact to stare dreamily at, of all places, Greece. 

 Behold the wisdom of the editorial board:

When it comes to budgets, the word 'austerity' is largely associated with Greece and its economic hardships after the 2008 financial meltdown. Greece had borrowed too much, and its global lenders wanted the nation to get its house in order. Painful tax increases and spending cuts — including to pensions — led to riots in the streets.

Greece eventually emerged from its darkest troubles, but the word 'austerity' has come to mean government cuts that hurt more than help.

The correct retort: 

Nevertheless, the board thinks Greece should serve as the City's example. Cuts hurt, yes; but they're needed, and they're needed right now. The Greeks lived beyond their means. They were overpaid. Austerity set things straight.

In truth, austerity was imposed on Greece because it was (and still is) politically weak. What will not be found, in economic terms, is a good reason for budget cuts, which always impair growth. In the case of Greece, those cuts largely impacted people who benefitted the least from the country's ill-advised 2001 EU entry—the Eurozone is really nothing more than a currency: the euro, and its economics, structured by the German form of neoliberalism, ordoliberalism, reduces all of a nation's productive, distributive,  and exchange activities to the severe management of inflation and government budgets. No other tools are available.  

What happened when Greece abandoned the drachma (its national currency) in 2001 (when its GDP was only $135 billion) was that the credit rating for its sovereign debt became the same as Germany's (a $2 trillion economy at the time). This meant it could borrow relatively cheap money from German and French banks. And these banks were happy to send all manner of loans to Greece because the consumer markets in places like Germany and France were saturated (low returns). The return on the loans in first-rate countries would be nothing like what you'd get in an economy that had in 1989 a GDP per capita that was not much higher than Botswana's or Gabon's, for that matter. And this is how Greece fell into debt.

But this also raises a question about capitalism itself. The cost of borrowing in Greece was once very high. Why? Because lending money is not risk-less, in the same sense that opening a business in downtown Seattle comes with risks. The business may go belly-up. So, when the banks loaned money to Greece, it was ostensibly a business decision. But when the business venture failed, they behaved as if it were a religious decision. It was a matter moral principle that Greece returned the money it borrowed. But why do we have credit ratings if no risks are involved? This point is almost never addressed. A movie can bomb, as with The Flash, but bank loans are holy. 

No need to read Marxists and socialists to get a clear picture of what happened to Greece after the crash on Wall Street, a crash caused by the spectacular inflation of values in the US's housing sector and weak capital requirements for commercial banks, which, due to the elimination of Glass–Steagall Act during the Clinton administration, fused with investment banks. The Shifts and the Shocks, by the Financial Times' Martin Wolf, will do the job.

The point is this: Austerity has never worked for anyone but the very rich. This is a historical fact.

Lastly, an income of $100,000 does not make you anywhere near rich in Seattle. Much of that money goes right back into the economy. Little of it is saved or sent to Wall Street or the like. This is a sad thing to say because it puts the city's average income of $73,000 into better perspective. Real savers will not be found until you reach a sphere of income that's nearly triple the average and easily double what's earned by the bulk of the city's employees. How the editorial board fails to see this is just astounding.