Jan 2012

and the shirts off our backs!

The boys are back in town. Sadly not them wild-eyed boys referred to by Phil and the rest of Thin Lizzy. Nope, it’s the guys from the IMF, EU and ECB that are tearing up the city. And while they may well be dressed to kill, I doubt they’ll be spending much time down at Dino’s bar and grill. Instead it’s the Department of Finance and the luxurious Merrion Hotel where these boys will be spending their time. And the destruction they’ll wreak will make the best efforts of the wildest rock band pale into insignificance. What Phil and the lads might have done to a couple of hotel rooms, our current visitors will do to the whole country.

The Boys Are Back In Town

I wouldn't be the world's biggest Thin Lizzy fan
but I know who I wish was back in town

The reason for their visit is to “oversee the progress” being made by Ireland. That’s right; they’re checking up on us. They want to make sure that we’re following orders. Otherwise they’ll deny us access to the “bail-out” funds. The standard response to any hint of indignation about this is, “Well, it’s only fair. They are giving us money to keep the country afloat and in return we agreed to some conditions. They have every right to visit every three months and make sure we’re keeping to our end of the deal”.

Except it’s not fair. Not in the slightest. They’re not giving us money, they’re lending it to us. And one of the conditions we agreed to (or rather, our political classes agreed to) is that a huge chunk of those loans be used to pay off the debts run up by private financial institutions. And who are those institutions indebted to? Why, it’s the French and German banks (among others). So private corporations run up debts. The EU and IMF loans the Irish State money to pay back those debts. Leaving the Irish State in debt. What is described as an IMF/EU “bail-out” of Ireland is nothing more than a mechanism to trick the Irish public into bailing out French and German banks. It’s farcical. It’s obscene. And it’s as far from fair as you’re likely to get. How is heaping private debt on the shoulders of as-yet unborn Irish citizens even remotely fair?

The fathers have eaten bitter fruit and the children’s teeth are set on edge. The whole point of that proverb is as a metaphor for injustice!

And look, I’m not saying the Irish State didn’t run up debts of its own. I’m not saying the financial policies of our governments for the past decade haven’t been a bloody disaster. They have been. What I’m saying is that a combination of IMF and European bureaucrats along with the Irish political establishment, driven by an ideology that seeks to redistribute wealth from poor to rich, have decided to compound those disastrous years of financial irresponsibility with the worst possible response. A response that will ruin this country unless we resist it strenuously.

And the first line of resistance should be to prevent the sale of State assets. That’s the next stage in the process, you see. We’ve borrowed the money and are paying off the gambling debts of fools. Fools, incidentally, who show no remorse for their actions. Seán Quinn, David Drumm and the rest of them shouldn’t be in the bankruptcy courts, they should be in the criminal courts for the reckless behaviour that drove this country over a cliff. That they “didn’t technically break any law” is only because our law-makers were criminally incompetent. The very first article in the Irish Constitution states:

The Irish nation hereby affirms its inalienable, indefeasible, and sovereign right to choose its own form of Government, to determine its relations with other nations, and to develop its life, political, economic and cultural, in accordance with its own genius and traditions.

These men and their ilk have undermined the most basic principle of Irish nationhood. In a very real sense, their actions subverted the constitution. Haul them up for treason and throw them in Mountjoy for 20 years. No, it won’t get the money back, but it might just give pause to those in our banks and governments who even as I write are dedicated to continuing this madness.

And there’s a real urgency about this. Not only because each day that passes sees more debt piled onto the Irish people. But because we are soon to sell off our stake in our own energy infrastructure, our ports, our stake in our airline… even our forests and natural resources. All at fire-sale prices.

This massive wave of privatisations is being done at the behest of the international puppet-masters now pulling the strings of the Irish government. Not content with heaping a mountain of debt on the shoulders of future generations, they intend to take the family silver with them when they leave. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; the outcry about this should not be confined to these shores. Because if these thieves are allowed to get away with this in full view – as is happening – they will not stop with Ireland. You will be next, wherever you live, and they won’t be satisfied until they have laid waste to the world.

In my previous post I argued that the inequities within western society are nothing next to the inequity that exists when you compare the west to the rest. But I also made it clear that I fully support opposition to that inequity (I’m just not keen on all of the language used by those doing the opposing). We can do little about the greater problems of the world if we’re forced to our knees at home. To solve the larger problem we need the power to do so. And whatever small amount of power we may have had is being systematically stripped from us.

My solution is a radical one. And one that will be popular with nobody. So we clearly need to find a different solution.

But if it came to it… sure, sell off the assets. Then once the cheque has cleared (metaphorically) announce a huge wave of nationalisations. Just take it all back (and that includes the offshore resources we let go for a pittance). Implement a hefty wealth tax. Raise income tax for everyone above €60,000; with increasing levels as you rise above €100,000. Cut whatever public spending we can afford to without putting anyone into poverty. Essentially, balance the budget in one fell swoop. Then unilaterally default on our debt and leave the euro. Hell, leave the EU if we’re forced to. Devalue our new currency and begin large training programmes in agriculture and engineering. Get back to basics. Make sure we can feed ourselves and maintain our national infrastructure. Expand our renewable energy and public transport systems. By all means continue interacting with the global economic system, but on our own terms.

Yeah. As I say, popular with nobody. It’s a strategy that will produce hardship and require sacrifice. Crucially though, those who can afford to contribute the most will be expected to. Given Ireland’s population and resources, I don’t believe that anyone need go hungry or without shelter; but we’ll have to say goodbye to most of our luxuries for the foreseeable future. And let me just say this while you’re thinking of a better solution… such a manifesto will be a far better preparation for the future than anything being proposed by any political party, or by the IMF, the EU or any financial institution. It would offer unborn generations a sustainable society instead of an unsustainable debt.

Posted in: Opinion