The Irish people should not be teased with false choices

“The best under the circumstances”, says Cowen or “almost unaffordable” according to Noonan? The battle lines for the general election are drawn up immediately. But the contest won’t be about real alternatives. It’ll be about how the Irish people respond to a settlement they have to work through whoever is in power, give or take a tweak or two. This poses a big challenge for Michael Noonan, Joan Bruton and the rest of the government in waiting.  They have to change tack fast or consign the people to gloom and negavatism for a decade, aggravated by the distrust and suspicion on the part of Ireland’s international bank managers.

 The main oppostion parties must switch soon  from the rhetoric of opposition to the language of government. New politics is needed indeed. It would be  the worst sort of old politics  for Fine Gael and Labour to present the electorate with a wholly bogus choice. 

 If one long howl of protest is what you’re looking for why not go straight for the real fruit of the vine and opt for Sinn Fein? The real choice between grim realism and despair is better expressed by Stephen Collins and Fintan O’Toole. One of the long term outcomes of this crisis may be a new European stability mechanism that reduces the cost to the indigent at the price of fiscal harmonisation, but that time has not arrived.  More immediately, the prediction business is a mug’s game but on the level of  psychology, it’s a no brainer. People need hope to get out of bed in the morning.

Stephen Collins

Ultimately, it will all depend on whether the doom merchants are proved right and the European Union lurches into a crisis from which it will never recover or whether normal economic and political conditions are gradually restored.

Back in 1987, few people believed the Bruton/MacSharry budget introduced at one of the lowest points in Irish history would within a few years have led to the Celtic Tiger economy. Good luck as well as courageous political decision-making underpinned that transformation and both elements will be required if the programme is to work as planned.

Sinn Féin will have no inhibitions about promising to reverse them all but the party has the luxury of knowing that it will not be in power to implement its policies. If by any chance it is, the reality of the EU/IMF supervision will soon put paid to the rhetoric. In Northern Ireland, the party has managed to adapt very quickly to the constraints of office and it would probably be no different on the southern side of the Border.

Fintan O’Toole

This is not a rescue plan. It is the longest ransom note in history: do what we tell you and you may, in time, get your country back.

One of the worst aspects of this dreadful deal is that legitimate anger at the EU and the IMF will distract attention from the heart of our problems: our own elites and our own institutions. It opens up the possibility that, as things spiral downwards, Irish politics could revert to the xenophobic victim culture that is dormant but by no means extinguished

 

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  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Good deal bad deal? The truth may lie somewhere in between but it allows FG/Labour the luxury of criticising the deal which will be signed and sealed before they get into office and to blame FF whilst they implement it.

    Clearly there should have been an election before the deal was signed.

  • Brian Walker

    Sammy Don’t agree about an election. It would have been too tempting to propose false choices and increase the run risk of a real euro crisis. The opposition parties I;m sure are privately grateful that FF are doing the heavy lifting at this stage

  • Munsterview

    “…….Sinn Féin will have no inhibitions about promising to reverse them all but the party has the luxury of knowing that it will not be in power to implement its policies. If by any chance it is, the reality of the EU/IMF supervision will soon put paid to the rhetoric. ……”

    The Free State Government said exactly the same thing about the payments agreed with England arising from Ireland’s alleged debt for the Land Wars and the First World War. The Free State payed it, Fianna Fail in assuming office refused.

    It took a short sharp economic war but it worked, the debt issue was resolved and life went on with a hell of a lot more money in Irish State coffers. This is no different, it is a matter of perspective. When people like Dr. Diarmaid Ferriter and Fintian O’Tool are saying the same things as Pearse Doherty our new Sinn Fein TD , then some thing very profound and unnoticed has happened.

    Three weeks ago in Donegal I had a discussion with the guest house owner, he was still a qualified Fianna Fail and if not, Fine Gael voter. He had problems with Sinn Fein and it’s history. On Friday when he opened the door and found me there his first response was ” Well you got two votes out of this house anyway”!.

    He roasted the Fianna Fail candidate for the sell out and Fine Gael could only repeat the mantra of passing the budget with no alternatives. Sinn Feins canvasser was able to talk policy and he bought it, the man was saying the things he wanted to hear. There will be plenty more like that family in the coming weeks and months.

    Roman Abramovich is the fourth richest man in Russia and how he got his vast wealth is a matter that would net bear too much close scrutiny. Why should we go without pension funds, hospital services and teachers to guarantee his bonds ?

    Is this the new Capitalism rules for Europe and the World, risk an investment, if it works take the profit, if it fails make the taxpayer pay! Even the 19th century Robber Barons of Capitalism did not dare go that far in the heday of Capitalism ! Neither would the EU have dared to inflict this on any part of the European Public is the Soviet Union was still in existence.

    Is it any surprise South America is going Red, election after election. Far from having seen ‘The end of history’ as predicted, this puppy is still running with a way to go yet. If this is the new acceptable face of Capitalism, and opposing it means being labeled a Communist, there are many young idealistic people who will yet that label with pride.

    Hardly surprising then that the New York Times found the idea preposterous and stupid beyond the power of words to describe. http://www.irishcentral.com/news/Irelands-bailout-is-Worse-than-a-Crime-says-NY-Times-columnist-110850374.html This is from the article………

    Nobel Economics Prize winner Paul Krugman, the New York Times columnist is the latest U.S. commentator to say Ireland has made a major mistake in agreeing to underwrite bank losses
    According to Krugman, the Irish story began with what he describes as “a genuine economic miracle”.

    He says the speculative frenzy that followed was “driven by runaway banks and real estate developers, all in a cozy relationship with leading politicians”.
    When the property bubble burst the Irish banks were faced with huge losses resulting from the reckless loaning.

    He describes the Irish Governments bank guarantee in plain terms: “The Irish government stepped in to guarantee the banks’ debt, turning private losses into public obligations”………
    There is the whole Irish crisis succinctly summed up by an Internationally authoritative and respected financial figure with a Nobel prize in Economics in his field. He is not alone Internationally or in Ireland in advocating burning the bondholders !

    So who are the rest of these Anglo Irish Bondholders that the taxpayers are expected to bail out ? Here is some of the list leaked in the recent past. http://www.irishcentral.com/news/List-of-bondholders-in-Anglo-Irish-Bank-leaked-110903209.html

    Not since the Hunger Striker protest have I seen such anger and disgust among ordinary people. They are still shellshocked but give it a week or so. Last week in a crowded theater I heard a lecture by Diarmaid Ferriter where he said some of the very things that I was banned from the airwaves and censored for saying.

    These sentiments are no longer marginal, they have now gone mainstream !

  • Glencoppagagh

    Interesting that the list of bondholders is overwhelmingly comprised of fund managers, not banks. Not that this affects the argument as to whether they should get burnt or not but it does cast doubt on the populist guff about this deal being imposed on Ireland in order to ‘save’ EU banks.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Brian,

    “The opposition parties I;m sure are privately grateful that FF are doing the heavy lifting at this stage”

    Of course they are but clearly there should have been an election some time ago preceded by a proper debate.

  • Munsterview

    Glenc.

    this from another article. Millhouse as a name seems innocuous, yet see what is behind it.
    I did not have time to do a fund by fund id as yet on Anglo but I would not be surprised to find that there are more of out Russian friend than someone investing credit union funds!

    “……So who are these primary bond holders that the Irish Taxpayers and Unemployed workers are now bailing out ? One such outfit is Millhouse. The owner is Roman Abramovich,……http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbcfour/documentaries/profile/abramovich.shtml….. he owns Chelsea football club in England and he is Russia’s fourth richest man ! In 2005 he was one top fifty wealthiest people in the world……”

  • Alias

    He says the speculative frenzy that followed was “driven by runaway banks and real estate developers, all in a cozy relationship with leading politicians”.

    He’s been reading too many Irish blogs. The focus is on property as that is the biggest loser in the bust side of a boom (as it always is) but it is a non sequitur to then claim that is the cause of the problem.

    All sectors of the Irish economy experienced inflation, with the common cause being expansionist monetary policies. For example, 10s of billions were also lost on share price speculation. The reason property comes to the fore and not shares is because any idiot can buy a house and suddenly become an entrepreneur for a few hours’ work on his part whereas speculating in shares requires more skill. Nonetheless, if property was prohibitive through regulation then share prices would have expanded even more dramatically and collapsed even more dramatically than they did.

    Likewise, services businesses and consumer goods businesses expanded to supply the demand that was created by the availability cheap credit and that could only be sustained by cheap credit, so these businesses mistook monetary expansion for economic expansion.

    The problem was too much cheap money chasing too few investment opportunities.

  • Alias

    “Interesting that the list of bondholders is overwhelmingly comprised of fund managers, not banks. Not that this affects the argument as to whether they should get burnt or not but it does cast doubt on the populist guff about this deal being imposed on Ireland in order to ‘save’ EU banks.”

    It’s more interesting that a supposed economist thinks that a fund manager who is a bondholder to a eurosystem bank isn’t a eurosystem lender, and that he isn’t being bailed out by taxpayers assuming responsibility for the losses that he suffered by lending recklessly to another eurosystem lender that would othereise defaulted.

  • Alias

    “This is a measure which is not simply a single shot taken in response to an important crisis, it forms part of the absolute determination of Europe — of France and Germany — to save the euro zone,” French government spokesman Francois Baroin told Europe 1 radio [in reponse to the 85 billion loan].

    Err, I thought it was supposed to be about saving Ireland’s economy but it turns out that it was all an attempt to “save the euro zone” at the direct expense of the Irish economy. Damn us gullible fools who thought it wasn’t all about bailing-out the eurosystem!

  • Munsterview

    Just had this em from American Republican Party cousins who are also ‘Tea Party’ advocates. They run an advisory service for business and business start up in particular. They are part Irish American and are third generation US. This was in response to an article on the Irish situation that I send to them yesterday evening.

    We normally only hear of the lunatic fringe or ‘characters’ of the ‘Tea Party’ over here, this is an interesting insight into the thinking of ordinary middle class. mid-westerner, supporters and much of it resonated with our Southern Irish situation.

    Abstract………

    Well done!!!  Wow, that sounds like the US govt. all over again.  When
    did governments decide the people were too stupid to take care of
    themselves?  

    This new world order is getting out of hand and the free
    people of the world better take notice and as you said “get their feet
    marching”.  I think what you described is where the “tea partiers” are
    coming from.  

    Don’t try to swindle us, take care of us, control us or
    over rule us.  Govt get out of our lives!  Let the folks who have to pay
    for their mistakes take over.  Stop the rise of taxes, reduce what is
    already in place, straighten out the schools, the state govt. and the
    Fed. Govt.  Let’s get folks elected to office who know how to run
    businesses, meet payroll, deal with people and meet deadlines.  It can’t
    be that hard and the barristers all over need to get out of Govt. unless
    called upon.  

    The majority in the states have no experience in any of
    these areas and generally come from families with money.  Our elected
    officials take gifts, bribes etc. as well.  We have one right now that
    is holding up the reauthorization of the only program the govt has put
    together because her campaign funders are VC’s and they want a piece of
    the program which is for small businesses only.  The program is now on
    its 9th continuing resolution and up again in Jan for reauthorization
    .
    If she doesn’t get her way, who knows what will happen but there will be
    newly elected congressmen and women on the hill and hopefully they will
    remember why they are there and not drink the koolade.  We have been
    fairly quite politically since the election the first of Nov.  Just
    re-grouping and getting a 2nd wind.  Great article, and certainly
    nothing like what we hear is happening in Ireland.  It is good to know
    the real story.

  • Munsterview

    Just got another response from Stateside and it certainly is educational !

    http://michael-hudson.com/2010/11/schemes-of-the-rich-and-greedy/

  • Alias

    Brilliant article from Michael Hudson – a man with the credentials to support his analysis:

    “The Irish bailout will encumber its people with perhaps as much debt as a $9 trillion bailout would be here in the United States. The Irish also are expected to also gut unemployment insurance, their minimum wage and similar social safety nets while boosting interest rates and home property taxes to pay tribute to the European creditor agencies that have “rescued” them. They will relinquish ownership of much of Ireland to their creditors, capped by ownership of government policy-making. The new banks will be owned by foreigners, who will put Ireland on a debt treadmill to transfer its taxable surplus to mainland Europe and Britain.”

    That “debt treadmill” won’t stop until this indentured statelet has generated 1.67 trillion euros in wealth plus interest and duly exported every last cent of it to the eurosystem or until we have another 1916 and reclaim our country from its colonial owners.

    No doubt the puppet government will support the EU regime and call in foreign troops to put down the Irish people but that is now the only way out…

  • pippakin

    TEA party movement: right wing conservative, capitalist groups banding together their main aim no more big government or high taxes. Fair enough but not particularly European, not Irish and most emphatically not SF. Any similarity of aims is very much a surface only veneer.

    SF having spent decades neglecting the south have now turned up full of vim, eager to show us all where various governments have gone wrong. Really? P Doherty was a worthy winner in DSW and they may win in Louth and some other constituencies but they are unfit for government, their plans appear naive and simplistic. Sure all a socialist government has to do is move in and the streets will automatically be paved with honey.

    It is time for change in Ireland, civil war politics, if it can be called that, is, hopefully finished. Are people in Ireland supposed to think SF have suddenly materialised as our saviours? Its a day dream too far for most of us.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Alias,

    Are you acknowledging your Corpo tax miscall?

    On the somehat bigger picture, you have called it much more accurately than most – but your anti-Euro/EU rhetoric has deflected (in my eyes) from your substantive arguements.

    Also I dont quite get how you can absolve Ireland from responsibility for her own feckless behaviour?