January 27, 2010

How FF put middle class deep into 'debtor's prison'

Posted in Debt · 288 comments ·
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Has Fianna Fail destroyed the Irish middle class? If the answer is yes, then this recession will have considerably more dramatic lasting effects than even some of the most realistic observers suggest. The reason for asking this question is that the huge debts incurred by the broad middle class in the property boom can’t be paid. And with no coherent mechanism for individual mortgage default, the Government is putting bondholders before mortgage holders.

Fianna Fail has placed the middle classes in a ‘debtor’s prison’ and, what is more egregious, it has given the middle classes the bill for the mistakes of Fianna Fail’s developer mates because it is obsessed with keeping the banks afloat in their present crippled state.

This ‘debtor prison’ approach to financial mistakes will bankrupt the middle classes. Today the average Irish family owes €132,000 to the banks. This huge debt overhang, taken together with tax increases and cuts in real wages plus the prospect of families supporting their unemployed children who are living at home, and what we are looking at is nothing less than the shattering of the Irish Dream.

The Irish Dream, like the American Dream, is based on the notion of a progressive conveyor belt of prosperity whereby each generation becomes better off than the generation that came before them. It is an idea rooted in the expectation of progress and the hope that aspirations can be translated into real results, traditionally with the help of increased family investment in education.

As Irish families moved from being predominantly single breadwinner to two income households, we didn’t get richer, we got more indebted and this debt made us feel rich. Feeling rich, we borrowed more and more, cheer-led by Fianna Fail.

This was the Ahern/Cowen conveyor belt. The deal was simple: we Fianna Fail, will keep the house party going and you will feel richer, safe in the knowledge that the next generation will be able to afford the silly prices because the unregulated banks will make the cash available to them. You just vote for us and take the cream. The banks will get the cash because we are in EMU and we will never again face a credit constraint.

This is how the middle classes started to become enfeebled. It began in 2001/2 and went into overdrive in 2004. The Irish Dream of prosperity was a sham and worse still there was no Plan B. No one thought about how we would react when or if the money stopped flowing. Would we have provisions for the inevitable default? Who would come first in the crisis, the people or the banks’ creditors? Without a coherent plan, the same Fianna Fail Government just stumbles from crisis to crisis, hoping the middle class who voted it in has infinite resources to pay for the mess.

But we don’t. We are broke. The middle aged, middle classes are rocked by the sudden unemployment of their children (30pc of our under-25s are unemployed) and the collapse in value of their second home. On top of that, their pension funds — which were invested by charlatans in the shares of Irish banks — are now worthless (and after the nationalisation of the big two, they will be wiped out altogether).

So the “two income”, middle class family in Ireland — as in the US — ends up on a knife-edge. The only way it can maintain its status and ensure that its children have a better opportunity is if Ireland finds a new economic blueprint to kickstart employment. But we are stagnant at best, going backwards at worse.

Without significant job opportunity and income opportunity, the middle class has only two other avenues to maintain its living standards. The first is to sell its assets and the second is to borrow more. But it can’t sell its assets because its assets are houses and these will continue to fall for a few years.

Selling now, even if it saves money over the longer term, will crystallise the losses and leave the average family with a huge debt to the banks. So the natural tendency is to hope that something will turn up. But what if it doesn’t?

The other option is to go back to the Ahern/Cowen model of borrowing to get rich. We know that doesn’t work and anyway it has been supplanted by the Cowen/Lenihan model of the State borrowing in order to try to protect the already decimated shareholders of the banks. This leads to NAMA and the errant folly of betting the country yet again on the hope that the property market will recover to make the bad balance sheet of the banks good again.

But even looked at from first economic principles, for the Fianna Fail plan to happen, the banks have to lend out money. But the middle classes don’t want their money (even if the banks had it) because they are stuffed with debt anyway. In short, the broad middle classes still think that if we do the right thing, things will turn around.

But what if they don’t? What if the middle classes of the likes of Korea, Malaysia and Poland compete with us in a way they they didn’t in the 1990s? What if they are as educated as us and are half the price, hungrier and, most crucially, without the useless debts we have built up?

What happens to the Irish middle class then? It shrinks is what happens. It gets weighed down by unpayable debts, living in a “never-never land” of an overvalued currency and insurmountable debts, tied to worthless assets (houses) in a place where the working population is falling. Given that the middle class provides ballast to society, this is a dangerous thing.

Fianna Fail is well on the way to destroying the very class that put it in power in the past three elections. Extraordinary times demand extraordinary solutions but more of the same has been advocated. Like the Irish Home Rule Party in 1916, denial abounds and a vacuum emerges.


  1. It is not just the Irish Middle Class, who have been attcked it is UK too
    but with Ireland & the Celtic Tigers hype-who permited all those Brazilians to be invited so to work for a meat processing company & so controll a small Irish town, then to fail within 3 years ! Ministers Civil Servants etc Politicians etc have alot to answer as do Anglo Irish Bankers too current and past!!

    • I agree with you optionplayer – this has occured across much of the western world and as I have repeatedly said until we exorcise ourselves of the Fianna Fail / Fine Gael sham – we will never be able to sort out the mess. Ultimately much of the fault lies with the electorate.

      Blame game is all very well – but what about the solutions? This is another one of David’s recent work that lacks solutions – but merely re-hashes the blame game.

      The only response I have seen to “who are the bondholders?” suggests it would be folly to renege on these bonds. David has talked of the “London Club”?

      I dont think that the banks are going to be nationalised in entirety – but the Government will have majority stakes (large in AIB’s case).

      My solutions: The European University; and expanded IFSC for Dublin. Worldwide debt perhaps need to be addressed through a “world debt bond” – which would be linked to individual countries “new debt bonds”. In Irelands case this might be used to alleviate the plight of indebted individuals and firms.

      • Deco

        PhilRuss.

        FG did not create this mess. And FG are not responsible for it. FG are responsible for failing to provide any realistic alternative. In particular, with respect to FG in the Age of Noonan. Let’s be honest here. There seems to be this assumption coming from certain quarters that this is a crisis that can be used to get the ILP into power with other left of centre elements. We have had a left of centre Keynesian economic policy party in power for the last ten years, and an IBEC bolt on called the PDs. And now a collection of insiduous clique of tree hugging opportunists. FG’s crimes were crimes of ommision. The real FF Plan B in Irish politics is the ILP. FOT wanted Rabbitte to support Ahern after the last election. Quinn kept his options open in the previous election, on the basis that he might have been able to get into government with Ahern. Ireland has had enough of political opportunists advocating one thing – and then changing their mind and behaving like opportunists. Classic example Gormless and the GP.

        • G

          One political party masquerading as three – there will be no solutions from the Dail – if Gilmore and Co can’t take out FF now then it says more about their ineptitude than FFs.

          If this is the kind of person (senior role) FG entertains then I don’t see it getting better any time soon
          http://www.independent.ie/national-news/courts/vet-worked-90-hours-a-week-at-fg-officials-farm-for-8364500-2033084.html

          Deco – not sure how you could characterise FF as left of centre Kennesian economic policy party in power – Keynes would have baulked at FF’s economic policies.

          clique of tree hugging opportunists is to be applauded though.

          what we may see, once again, is Labour opportunists doing a devil’s deal with FF, if that happens then we can turn out the flickering lights of the Republic.

          • Deco

            I would classify FF as a Keynesian party, because they are driven by the need to “pump-prime” the economy. FF promise to spend their way into a boom. Under Ahern, it was pumped until the engine blew a gasket. The next government will be FF-ILP or otherwise ILP-FF. ILP and FG have gone in opposite directions. FG are trying to do it with a smaller party. Possibly the GP.

        • Colin_in_exile

          Deco,

          First Sentence Correct. Second Sentence Correct. Third sentence should read “the electorate are responsible for failing to consider any realistic alternative to FF”.

        • Eireannach

          Absolutely spot on Deco,

          The distressing truth is that the Irish electorate are not interested in radical ideas or visionary leaders.

          As a result, semi-ideologically committed political parties like Labour and the Greens enter into ‘pragmatic’ agreements with what SHOULD be their ideological opponents in FF or FG.

          How is it possible that political parties of one ostensible persuasion – Left/Marxist Labour or Greens – can possibly tolerate sharing power with FF or FG?

          The answer is that the Irish electorate have no clear vision or ideological viewpoint. They’ll cobble together any alliance as long as it ‘works’, i.e. makes their bourgeois property-owning ‘Dream’ come true.

          What a pathetic people. To think there are people dying of starvation throughout the world, and in Ireland 30% of new cars sold since 2000 were luxury models.

          Pathetic, sickening and now in terminal decline. Irish property-owning, luxury car driving, weekend-holidaying ‘dreamers’ – good riddance to bad rubbish I say.

          • Eireannach

            Correction – the Irish electorate may soon become interested in radical, visionary leaders.

            But with Catholic mass attendance in rural Ireland still the highest in Europe (alongside rural Poland and Malta), I don’t expect any visionary leaders to arise and ‘represent’ the people who look like the cast of Last of the Summer Wine or Glenroe.

          • shtove

            Lord save us and protect us from ideology and visionary leaders.

            Forget leaders and take the simple way forward: declare bankruptcy now, start all over again.

      • Bamboo

        PhilRuss1, absolutely spot on.

        Blame game is all very well — but what about the solutions? This is another one of David’s recent work that lacks solutions — but merely re-hashes the blame game.
        Your solution of the The European University is in my opinion one of the most feasible solutions presented in the last couple of weeks that I can see working out for the future. 
I have a few comments on this PhilRuss1.
        1. Is this idea been already somewhat implemented by every institute/college. Foreign students are attracted by the hundreds or more to study here in Ireland and have to pay much more on fees than Irish students. Look at the Spanish students in the summer time. Isn’t that the same thing?
        2. Otter countries obviously think on the same line. What should Ireland do to make a difference to attract foreign students? Should we work like the Tourist board and advertise how wonderful it is to study here in Ireland. A percentage of students are funded by their parents in their studies and social live (I am one of those weak parents). Do you think that these group of parents who fund their children will sustain in this economic climate? BTW: I am one of them who certainly can’t.

        I think replacing a FF GOV with something else is the best solution to start with a blank page. But with what though? We have a system of the local TD. This system shows that a local TD can look after and concentrate solely on their own constituency and in essence doesn’t give a toppence about the rest in the country. As long as his/her own constituency is looked after, then he/she gets the votes. This culture of caring solely for you own is the basis for how things are done. This is not because of FF but simply this is how the culture and political system is. However, this system allows any government to issue some type of GiftCard when things don’t go their way.
        Prime example: The Independent TD for Kerry South, Jackie Healy-Rae, said he would support the budget after claiming he had secured a new deal with the Government.
http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2009/1209/1224260355073.html. Most likely these GiftCard are not worth anything as the issuer (in this case FF) will delay it and other standard excuses will be applied to it. A bit like a Dundrum GiftCard scheme.

        That is why we have such levels of nepotism, cronyism, etc. On a national government level this culture of looking after you own is blown out of proportion. My solution on a political level is to change this system/culture of a “local TD” and scrap the GiftCard system to pass things through to legislation.

  2. Why isn’t there any talk of harnessing wind, water, wave, oil and gas? We also have billions worth of gold below ground, as well as zinc mines.

    We have fertile land, so can sell food to the rest of the world. We can also sell water to the world, especially to Africa and China. China is going to have serious water shortages in the future and we have too much of it.

    All I keep hearing is constant moaning. I’m beginning to detest my own people. We have become fat, lazy, greedy and spoilt. Personally, I plan on becoming a digital game artist and eventually starting my own game development company. My plan was to setup in Ireland, but I’m starting to think twice, I think I’ll learn German instead and go live there.

    We have two choices. We can keep on bitching, moaning looking to Mammy and Daddy to save us (The Government) or we can be adults and stand on our own two feet.

    What’s stopping a few of us getting together and investing in a windfarm or wavefarm?

    • Lorcan

      “Why isn’t there any talk of harnessing wind, water, wave, oil and gas? We also have billions worth of gold below ground, as well as zinc mines.”

      Wind is currently being harnessed as quickly as the mandarins will allow. It is investable but the returns are not great. Wave, the technology is very far from being commercially viable yet (although may be so in the future).
      Oil, where?
      Gas, I presume you mean the Corrib gas project. That, as far as I know belongs to someone else now.
      Billions worth of gold below ground, probably. But hardly worth getting it because usually the concentrations are too small to make a commercial mine successful.
      Zinc mines, yes there are zinc mines in Ireland but like the gas above, that does not mean ‘we’ have them. They belong to the companies that have the licences to exploit them.

      There is nothing stopping anyone investing in wind/wave or any other form of energy.

      • liam

        “There is nothing stopping anyone investing in wind/wave or any other form of energy.”

        Not quite true.

        Nobody is allowed to dabble with nuclear. Sean needs to add uranium to the list of resources Ireland has, as well as the virtually limitless supplies of thorium in the oceans that surround Ireland.

        • Lorcan

          “Not quite true.”

          Well, you can still invest in nuclear, it is just unlikely that your investment will prove to be a wise one.

          Again, with Uranium (and this presumes that a minister at some stage will row back on the current short sighted ban on exploration) the mine, if it ever was to come into existence would belong to the licence holder, and not the state.

          Or are you suggesting that the government should get into the exploration business?

          • Heh Heh. They’ve got their paws stuck in everything else, so why not??

          • liam

            Understood, but in the spirit of a search for solutions, nuclear has in my opinion a lot of investment potential. It is most likely the key to the coming energy crisis. The problem as you quite correctly point out is institutional resistance to anything to do with nuclear. And your also right on the money when it comes to licences. The public sector is particularly bad at negotiating licences on behalf of the state, and is generally only inclined to even undertake such negotiations when there are significant kick-backs for the relevant politicians.

            In principle however there is no reason why a sensible and equitable agreement to outsource construction and management to the French and/or Japanese could not be agreed. There is the bones of a strategy there to be had. And if we work (with the Chinese and/or Indians) on the thorium fuel cycle, safety issues become far less acute.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thorium_fuel_cycle
            http://thoriumenergy.blogspot.com/

            But like most of the suggestions on these pages, though I believe it has its merits, the current political environment must change of this kind of stuff is to work.

        • Deco

          I don’t know….an Irish semi state organization for Nuclear power…..people coming into work under hangovers….or worse a private sector Irish Nucler Company listed on the ISEQ, and being used as a playpin for retired directors from AIB or BoI who know nothing about Nuclear energy…but who play a great foreball in the K-Club. Eh, No thanks.

          The Irish concept of management needs to be disects, repaired and restarted.

    • PaulJCollins

      Hi Sean,
      Its an interesting point you make re: wind/alternative energy. We have vast resources here but are doing nothing to harness them. This may give you an idea why….This is my story.

      I was a banker from 1996 to 2003, I worked in many instituitions including National Australian Bank, National Irish & Irish Life & Permanent in my time. I also dealt with all the main retail banks. I saw what was happening with the banks, and the property bubble and where it was all leading back in 2002, I brought this up on many occasions with my superiors, long before our DmcW was even aware of the problem, but was shouted down and labelled a “doom & gloom” merchant, so much that I eventually left my career behind me. It all came to a head in 2003 when I was in charge of a small team of financial advisors. I was personally admonished for advising against refinancing a clients borrowings.

      The said client were a working class single income family with 3 kids from coolock in Dublin. They were in debt up to their eyes, mortgage, credit cards, personal loans and were struggling with making their repayments. They actually wanted to borrow more money to do some “home improvemments” the standard lie at the time so people could just borrow more money to spend on whatever they liked, or to supplement their income.

      The jist of it was the clients had a mortgage with another bank, and wanted my bank to take over the mortgage, consolidate their loans and give them an additional €30,000. I brought the application back to the bank but advised against recommending it as I could see from meeting the family that it was only going to put them in more debt. I propsed consolidating & restructuring their debt to make it more affordable for them to pay, saving them a lot on interest, but not giving them any additional funds. This was what they needed, and a financial advisor should offer this sort of advice just like a doctor would offer practical health advice.

      I was admonished by my superiors for not recommending more borrowings as that would lower his sales figures, despite the fact that my advice was in the best interest of the customer, i was admonished because it was not in the best interest of the bank. Furthermore the following week, 2 advisors who I had personally trained, and trained well were fired for not meeting their sales targets. What you can gather from this is that the banks were not interested in offering sound financial advice to their customers, only in increasing their profits. I took exception to the firing of 2 of my staff and immediately handed in my notice. The bank did everything they could to stop me from leaving, offered me raises, more commission etc becasue I was good at my job, but I refused.

      I left my career and went in a totally different direction. I started deep sea diving, I took a course in South Africa, qualified and returned to Ireland, I worked for a year and eventually landed a really good job on the offshore wind farms off arklow. I loved my work, and I was well paid and at last I thought I had landed on my feet.

      when I first started working on the Air Tircity windfarms in 2004 there were 7 turbines which had been installed over the past couple of years. There was also planning permission for a further 150 wind turbines out there, an agreement that had been made between AirTricity and Fine Gael prior to their election loss in 1997. The agreement was along the lines of the government would fund 50% of the set up costs of the 150 turbines. I was overjoyed, I was promised a job for life once the remaining turbines were constructed.

      In 2004/2005 when AirTricity apporoached the then FF government about funding the remaining 143 turbines they were turned down. The government were not interested in investing in our future or our natural resources, do you know why???? …. because there was no FF politician/property developer/banker who was going to make a fast profit out of it. No one owned the land because they were offshore, so there was no real cash value transaction and no immediate profit to be made.

      This is the problem with this country. We are run by politicians who are more interested in media/spin, who are PR people rather than innovative intellectual thinkes who are experts in their fields. We have a minister for finance, who doesnt have a degree in economics/finance, we have a taoiseach who was the one who was in meant to prevent this mess in the boom years, but who did nothing. We have senior politicians incapable of independent thought who merely serve the interests of their buddies, the bankers & property developers. We dont have an opposition party with anything to offer, and as bad as the current FF government has been, imagine how things would be under that Mayo stonefarmer Enda Kenny!!! This is why we have done nothing to harness our natural resources. We have simply sold off the rights to many of our oil/gas fields for a small fee. We have done nothing to implement change and will do nothing in the short term future.

      This country is like a country of children being run by teenagers. Our only hope is that a new political party rises up out of this mess and demands change and gets the support of even only a small minorty of the population.

      REVOLUTION IS NEEDED NOW

      • G

        When a former banker is calling for revolution you know things are changing!

        I am happy to see you were able to liberate yourself in some sense, self-actualise.

        • PaulJCollins

          I’ve always been liberated, very liberated… the bank didn’t bother me before 2001, somewhere around that euro changeover everything went crazy. we were sucked into the big euro ponzi scheme. I was out of Ireland for 2001 & 2002. I couldnt believe the difference when I came back, the prices had rocketed 50% in some cases, they had used the euro changeover to disguise price rises. Nobody seemed to care cos everyone was making money. Everyone was in on the pyramid scheme (funny the way the Us$ has a pyramid on it).

          The problem possibly is not our politicians, after all they are the teenagers of europe, its the adults in the E.U. who are dictating our direction. We need politicians capable of standing up to the E.U. After all they are in control of our interest rates, our monetary policy, and our debt, they effectivley own us. They tell our government what to do.

          The problem with any revolution is it has to be bloody.. and global. Maybe one small country can start the ball rolling, maybe thats Irelands destiny… maybe not, but we’ll never know for sure with the bunch of politicians we have now….Im talking FF, FG, Labour, Greens, the lot, these people do not represent the broad spectrum of society. They are vote getters, game players & pr professionals.

          The problem is the people are stupid, and the people fall for their tricks, and play their games. The people would never elect a academic, a thinker, professor in Economics or Philosophy who does not need to sell himself to get votes, whose credentials speak for themselves, because they will fall for Soap-Box Jackie and his antics, or Bertie and his dublin charm.

          The problem with revolution is the masses still need to be told what to do.

      • I agree 100%

        As a whole, this nation is getting what we deserve. The problem is they are bringing the rest of the people down with them.

        Enda Kenny like most of the political leaders appeal to the average gobshite, but they struggle to construct a simple sentence without stopping and stuttering. Even to have a politician who can speak isn’t too much to ask for is it?

        As for the banks, they acted in a criminal manor and now they have all our cash. Win win situation, so what is going to stop them behaving even worse in the future when they’ll just get bailed out?

        They should all be jailed at the very least. Personally, I’d like to see some of them given the death penalty. Bringing the developers and banks to justice would expose the government, so that is not going to happen. I’m leaving the the bare minimum cash trash in the bank and investing in silver bullion. I see it as sticking to fingers up at them, as they’d only squander those savings into black holes.

        As for windfarms, with the price of oil and gas rising it has become competitive. Wave technology is becoming competitive as well. As usual, we can expect the government to be slow to catch on to this. That’s great for the investor, it means they’ll leave you alone for a few years. It took them 15 years before they started taking the computer games industry serious.

        Unfortunately, I can see the middle class in Ireland shrinking. The good news is there are many great opportunities to make sound money in agriculture, commodities, energy and anything else you can sell to the world.

        • Deco

          I didn’t know that Enda Kenny appealed to anyone outside his close family. I thought FG put him in charge because the alternatives were so mediocre. (Olivia Mitchell, Gay Mitchel, etc..).

      • Deco

        FF ended the possibility of allowing Air tricity to build more wind power in Arklow – because the ESB unions are all solidly behind FF. And because the ESB bosses are all FF appointed.

        Basically FF don’t like competition.

        The electricity market is rigged so that there will be minimal competition.

        • That’s why we need smaller government and pressurise them to allow competition in all areas. It worked great for the airline industry, cutting down prices and offering more choice.

    • lff12

      Because every NIMBY within a 1000km radius will be down for the next 10 years to obstruct it, and cry “conspiracy!” at every genuine attempt to progress in this way.

      We are too blinkered and self interested for our own good, that is our problem.

  3. John Q. Public

    The idea of there being such a thing as a bond in Irish debt is a joke! Those houses, offices and apartments will never sell. There will never be a profit made on these toxic debts by NAMA yet the bond-holders will have to be paid interest. As the unemployed immigrant population grows here so will the dole bill, further reducing our cash reserves.
    In the middle of all this property madness we still have a situation here where the tax-payer is propping up the price of rent via government subsidised rent payments totaling half a billion euros per year! That excludes dole, medical and esb allowances. The Irish middle-class are being screwed. The English and Nigerians are the largest recipients of these rent allowances and are least economically active. Oh and then of course there is the national debt, that should be fun to service at €75 Billion.
    Last one to leave here turn out the lights!

    • @John Q. Public

      Nope, them were the good auld days when it was €75 Billion, under NAMA it goes up to EUR150 billion debt which needs additional EUR32 billion to cover the interest for the next four years, to help pay for Anglo and similar banking/FF scams!

  4. Deco

    Nonsense. FF did exactly what any political clique would do. Same occurred in Britain under New Labour. Same occurred in Spain under the Socialists. Same occurred in Greece under the centre right. Same occurred

    I actually think the media are more complicit than anybody else. FF are just another colleciton of political opportunists who know nothing about economics, and who love to hop on and mount the rest of society. The FF patronage system, and it’s little brothers the ILP patronage system, the PD patronage system, and baby brother, the GP patronage system are stiffling our societies. This much is true.

    But we have to accept responsibility, for our current societal mores, for falling for all the BS that just grew and grew over the past two decades.

    The political establishment pressed our pride button, and we went into a mad frenzy. The problem is not FF – or any other body in Irish society – even the Straffan Aristocracy in IBEC. No single cause can be found. But our naivity made us complicit. We fell for the gombeenism

    The problem….is located east of one ear, and west of the other ear….the problem is us. We were just not up to it. And we are far too proud to admit that the problem is that simple. Our pride prevents us from seeing the stupidity that is endemnic in our society.

    Blaming something outside is protecting our own arrogance. We need to lose our arrogance and get real.

    • Deco

      And by the way…the only thing preventing an FG patronage system….is the fact that they cannot access power. Give them power and they will be like the rest.

    • ThomasFergus

      “Same in Spain with the socialists”. In fact, it was the conservative PP who created the property bubble in Spain. Came to power on the back of insidious anti-Basque, anti-Catalan campaigning and its own narrow , exclusive version of Spanish nationalism. Once in power, it divied up the goodies among its mates, many of whom were properly develepors and the whole thing went bust.

      The Socialists only got in 2004, when the property boom was in full swing, and that was largely due to external events (Al Qaeda and the PP hoping that “blame the basques” would work once more, thankfully they failed…). since the socialists came in, they’ve been a bit like FG as you say, but at least they ensured that banks remained capitalised and had a majority of non-executive directors (i.e. outsiders) on the boards of the banks. Consequently, far fewer spanish banks have got into trouble.

      • Deco

        The Spanish property bubble hit a frenzy under Zapatero. Zapatero set about inflating the economy even more than the Conservatives. Between 2004 and 2008, Spain went on steriods. It was a case of whatever Aznar could do, Zapatero could do even worse.

        The Spanish banking system will collapse. It is hiding massive debt levels. Spain has currently 20% unemployment, the worst current trading situation in the Eurozone, and massive fiscal borrowing. Zapatero is dealing with this by increasing the taxes and public sector expensditure. If he is not stopped he will wreck the Euro.

      • coldblow

        I remember well the Spanish people’s mass protest against the Basques over the Madrid bombing although it seemed most likely from the start that it was Al Q. who were behind it. I had a difference of opinion with a colleague who didn’t want to believe that Islamists could be responsible.

        • ThomasFergus

          Yeah but to be fair the majority of Spaniards didn’t fall it for this time. Remember the decision of the director of Spanish TV to pull the schedule and show a documentary about the murder of a Spanish politician by ETA the night before the election?

          Or the decision by the UN Security Council, under pressure from the Spanish Govt, to pass a resolution condemning the “attack on Madrid by ETA”? The Govt was shameless, but it when it came to a choice between socialists and those who played politics with human lives, the people chose the former.

    • Eireannach

      Very few people in Ireland even understand the balance sheet equation, aka the ‘accounting’ equation:

      Assets = Liabilities + NET worth

      They certainly didn’t understand it during the boom. They just went to the bank and the banker explained ‘you are rich’. Now they go to the banker and he/she says ‘you are in debt’. They know it has something to do with the collapse in house prices, but they can’t tell you the balance sheet equation is asked, or link it to their financial situation.

      It’s that bad. People this ignorant owe on average EUR95,000 each to the bank, but can’t explain the accounting of it.

    • Beavis

      Well said Deco – in fact I’d go a bit further than that and say that negatives usually come in twos. In Ireland’s case we had a double negative pairing; Arrogance and Ingnorance plus Greed and Stupidity.

    • tony_murphy

      Noel Grealish is getting his M17. Remove congestion from his backyard

      http://www.advertiser.ie/galway/article/21408

  5. SLICKMICK

    Renewable energy products are capital(not labour ) intensive and will create little employment.Allowing eastern europeans unlimited access to the Irish labour market seems crazier by the day.Why would any employer spend time and money training a schhol leaver/grad, when they can get experienced staff from across the globe @ half-price?.The internet is doing a good job @ wiping out middle class jobs across the globe.As ever ,the process is deeper and more wide ranging in Ireland.

    • tiamatr

      Slickmick, While I admire your sentiments you are factually incorrect. There are other renewable energy options which are not particularly capital intensive and can become part of a local community to provide local employment and retain wealth in the local community. The technology is well proven in other European countries but for some strange reason any attempt to get these projects started here face widespread opposition from the most unlikely sources. That renewable technology is community Anaerobic digestion (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anaerobic_digestion).

  6. Death Dor Ado – I have recently being referring sons and daughters of clients who are in ‘consumerable debts sans asset ‘ and who have no jobs , to their solicitors so they can be made bankrupted ‘ outre mer’ – in another country.Otherwise it is Suicide for them.

  7. Alan42

    Fianna Fail are populated by criminals . No use calling them goombeens or crony capitalists , that is just a clock that the Irish like to hide behind . They are criminals and their supporters are either stupid or in for what they can get out of it .

    In a couple of years time we will all discover the real truth as to why they are saving the banks at all costs . ( actually we know already but don’t want to admit it ) Fianna Fail are up to their necks in property syndicates and dodgey loans from the banks . Thats why the guilty are walking away with massive payoffs and pensions .
    With FF its power at all costs because thats where the easy cash is to be made .

    But really is it any wonder thats it’s all gone belly up ? We voted in a man who was was exposed as corrupt with no bank account and receving digouts .

    This is no surprise . Its a banana republic . For more than 20 years while I was in business the way to a government contract was to grease the palms of some red faced over fed FF criminal .

    How do we get to a recovery ? I really feel that we have to have a long and brutal recession and we end up 100′s of billions in debt , with even worse schools and health as maybe then we will conclude that handing power to a bunch of criminals is not the way to run a modern society .

    We need people in power who come from a business background who have taken risks and know how to balance the books . Who don’t always go for the easy option and can actually deliver . No TD or public servant ever took a risk in their lives . If you could not run a business you definitly cannot run a country .

    If I have 50 grand to invest I can either take the safe option and invest it in a term deposit in a bank ( Commonwealth in Oz are offering 8 % for 12 months ) or I can invest it in something risky like a country and get higher returns . But the country could go broke and I only get back 10 cents in the dollar . But Ireland for some mad reason has gone broke but is honouring the bonds . So if I am a bondholder I have a risky investment that is 100 % safe ??? WTF ? Am I missing something ?
    What they are doing is actual criminality . They are throwing 500,000 on the dole and the middle class own property in worthless ghost estates that will never be repaid back , yet they are saving bust banks . Look at the figures. Its madness .

    There has been media reporting of a further discount on NAMA because of ‘ drive by valulations ‘ its actually worse than that . I know for a fact that most were done over the phone with instant approval .

    • Alf

      Hi David,

      Ireland needs political reform for the new ideas will come through. But before reform people will have to get educated and wake up to the fact that property is not the answer. Fear of the unknown is not an excuse for doing nothing. People will have to start to question phrases and statements used by their politicians to justify their current policies. Fear is often used to control the masses. I’ve posted some of the what I think is the solution before but I feel that it is a start.

      How to get out of prison:

      1. The State must put the banks into bankruptcy proceedings.

      The deposits will be covered by the guarantee. The money will not go anywhere but the reality is that as deposits are withdrawn the government must cover any shortfall. Most money in an economy stays digital i.e. it goes from one account from another. If people have nothing to spend it on, and are assured that it will be covered by government, then they have no reason to panic.

      2. Scrap NAMA. Force the creditors to the table.

      The bondholders have already lost. They took premiums because there was risk and now one of their bets went bad. Ireland should not feel bad for them as it is simply that their gambling tab is due. Reckless lending is just as bad as reckless borrowing. The creditors have a decision to make — either negotiate the debt or be left swinging in the wind. Facing financial loss, they most likely will want to work a deal with the government. The state, having most of the cards, has several options. Ideally the state should aim to buy the banks assets, post bankruptcy, and create a State owned bank; debt free. This would be much more efficient than paying to keep afloat a bankrupt bank. This is not that radical because the State is, in effect, doing this already except it is covering the banks debts too. Mortgages could be renegotiated, keeping people in their homes but would also give a stimulus to the economy.

      If need be, use the threat of creating a State bank without their help where deposits would be moved to.

      3. Renegotiate debt and leave the Euro.

      If the EU wants Ireland as a member it will want to work with Ireland on this. The budget constraints and high exchange rate are forcing Ireland to cut when it needs to devalue and stimulate. A new currency is not an overnight step and the State should have the two currencies running simultaneously for some time before switching over. This may happen whether Ireland likes it or not so it would be much better to be proactive. Rejoining the Euro could be looked at later if there is enough trade to justify the loss of financial and political control.

      4. Re-brand Ireland Inc.

      Proceed to stimulate inward investment in areas other than housing. Invest in more efficient technologies and processes, concentrating on ways to do the same thing with less effort. Cut taxes to encourage new business. Eliminate and or merge quangos i.e. if you cant clearly explain in one sentence what it does – then get rid of it. Renegotiate resource rights and give grants for Irish home grown industries. Renegotiate fishing rights to revitalize the coastal towns.

      • Alf

        Hi David,

        Ireland needs political reform for the new ideas to come through. But before reform people will have to get educated and wake up to the fact that property is not the answer. Fear of the unknown is not an excuse for doing nothing. People will have to start to question phrases and statements used by their politicians to justify their current policies. Fear is often used to control the masses. I’ve posted some of the what I think is the solution before but I feel that it is a start.

        How to get out of prison:

        1. The State must put the banks into bankruptcy proceedings.

        The deposits will be covered by the guarantee. The money will not go anywhere but the reality is that as deposits are withdrawn the government must cover any shortfall. Most money in an economy stays digital i.e. it goes from one account from another. If people have nothing to spend it on, and are assured that it will be covered by government, then they have no reason to panic.

        2. Scrap NAMA. Force the creditors to the table.

        The bondholders have already lost. They took premiums because there was risk and now one of their bets went bad. Ireland should not feel bad for them as it is simply that their gambling tab is due. Reckless lending is just as bad as reckless borrowing. The creditors have a decision to make — either negotiate the debt or be left swinging in the wind. Facing financial loss, they most likely will want to work a deal with the government. The state, having most of the cards, has several options. Ideally the state should aim to buy the banks assets, post bankruptcy, and create a State owned bank; debt free. This would be much more efficient than paying to keep afloat a bankrupt bank. This is not that radical because the State is, in effect, doing this already except it is covering the banks debts too. Mortgages could be renegotiated, keeping people in their homes but would also give a stimulus to the economy.

        If need be, use the threat of creating a State bank without their help where deposits would be moved to.

        3. Renegotiate debt and leave the Euro.

        If the EU wants Ireland as a member it will want to work with Ireland on this. The budget constraints and high exchange rate are forcing Ireland to cut when it needs to devalue and stimulate. A new currency is not an overnight step and the State should have the two currencies running simultaneously for some time before switching over. This may happen whether Ireland likes it or not so it would be much better to be proactive. Rejoining the Euro could be looked at later if there is enough trade to justify the loss of financial and political control.

        4. Re-brand Ireland Inc.

        Proceed to stimulate inward investment in areas other than housing. Invest in more efficient technologies and processes, concentrating on ways to do the same thing with less effort. Cut taxes to encourage new business. Eliminate and or merge quangos i.e. if you cant clearly explain in one sentence what it does — then get rid of it. Renegotiate resource rights and give grants for Irish home grown industries. Renegotiate fishing rights to revitalize the coastal towns.

        • Eireannach

          ‘Re-brand Ireland Inc.’

          Consider Obama. He is fabulous effort to re-brand Obama, and he is failing miserably already. People see through re-branding. Everyone laughed when he got the Nobel Peace Prize. Now Americans are gearing up to throw him out and elect God-knows-who, but a ‘change’ from Obama.

          I think Obama’s a good guy and he got off to a great start, but his case proves the superficial nonsense of ‘re-branding’.

          Actually, still believing in superficial stunts like ‘re-branding’ is yet more Irish naivété. It’s been done, it doesn’t work unless there is actually real change ‘you can believe in’.

          Which leads us back in an arrow to the Irish electorate. The Irish will still elect clueless boggers as TDs to represent them because …. the Irish ARE largely clueless boggers who feel, correctly, that one of their own represents them.

          Our next Taoiseach will be, what some poster above memorably referred to as ‘Mayo stonefarmer’ Enda Kenny.

          Good luck re-branding Ireland with him in charge!

          • Deco

            Eireannach – I know an awful lot of clueless urban sophisticates….In fact they go to great lengths to apply layers to cover up their ignorance.

            Kenny lite says that his strong point is that he is not a strong leader. Now, there’s an admission for you. Gilmore is an actor. And Sleevin is a silver tongued scoudrel. Here we go again.
            “Clowns to the right and fools to the left.” as the song goes…

          • Alf

            Hi Eireannach

            5. Political Reforms.
            TD salary should be capped at a twice national average salary including expenses. Ireland wants to attract capable people but also people who actually want to work for Ireland first and foremost, not those that want to earn a nice salary. If the national average salary drops then so would theirs. There needs to be a formal agency set up with wide ranging powers to police and prosecute political fraud. All TDs would have to provide to this agency all financial information, bank accounts, investments, loans, conflicts of interest etc. It would be immune from political interference and should report to the President. The President’s role should be changed to make it more of an active safeguarding role.

  8. Very dissapointed with FG and Enda Kenny. He sat back and let FF win the last one and he is doing very little to get FF out of office now. The Greens look all smug with their new pastures. Gilmore is the only one who seems angry with all of this mess. The country should get behind him and frighten the pants off the other parties in the polls.

    • Colin_in_exile

      Here we are in 2010, after 13 years of FF led government, the country’s going down the tubes, and the first line of your analysis is “Very dissapointed with FG and Enda Kenny.”

      Is it any wonder the country is in the toilet with analysis like this?

  9. ThomasFergus

    I still think FF have a lot to offer, even if they’ve lost a lot of the middle class. There are still loadsa votes to be won among the middle class for so called “tough on crime” policies, which involve giving our corrupt and incompetent police force extra powers to deal with “scumbag” drug dealers in sink estates in west Dublin and Limerick; sink estates that were created through the corrupt planning decisions of politicians elected by the same middle class that despises the lower orders and want to see them pushed as far as possible from the leafy suburbs.

    There’s also the public sector/private sector wheeze, which involved setting ordinary middle class people in the public and private sectors at each other’s throats, while then disproportionately taking more from lower paid public service workers such as cleaners, clerks etc than senior civil servants. Thanks to a compliant media a vicious campaign by FF, we never stopped to think if there ever really was a division in status between the secretary general of a Government Department and the CEO of a bank or a corporation. Still, appeal to the predjudice of some shop keeper, car salesman or unemployed electrician about whingeing teachers and lazy nurses, and you create enough smoke to let Brian Lenihan hand over 54 billion euros to banks to keep the ol’ show on the road.

    What else is a vote winner among the middle class? Well, the minimum wage. There’s another “tough but necessary decision” (Copyright Madam Editor of The Irish Times) that must be made to restore competitiveness, even though the national competitiveness council has stated that the cost of land, insurance, rent, professional services (for whom NAMA is GRAVY) is what makes Ireland uncompetitive, not the €7.85 an hour wage some lucky punter gets for pumping petrol for a living.

    And if the stuff reallly hits the fan, and it needs the votes of working classes as well as the middle classes, then FF can take a leaf out of the book of one of its most…ahem…..”outspoken” (check his voting record on that one!) backbenchers, Noel O’Flynn TD for Cork North Central, who rakes in the votes by blaming the country’s woes on immigrants and judges with a prediliction for child porn. A sure fire vote winner all the way!

    Ireland will undoubtedly become a meaner and nastier place as a result of all these insidious appeal to our darkest predjudices, but sure didn’t St. Bartholomew of Drumcondra himself say “it’s all about winning, nothing else”?

    Remember folks, what’s good for Fianna Fail is what’s good for the country. That is The Party’s golden rule. Even if they have to commit treason in doing so, they will always abide by it.

    • G

      2012 electioneering slogans, if we get that far – re-aligned for our contemporary struggles (with input from the customary overpaid US think tank and subject to focus group scrutiny – terms and conditions apply):

      O’Bama Campaigh 2008 – No, we (sure as hell) can’t!

      FF 2002 – A lot (damage) done, a lot more (damage) to do!

      FF 2002 – Never change a horse mid-stream! (unless that stream has burst and flooded your ground floor apartment in the aptly named Waterways)

      FG 1992 – Let’s bring out the best in our country (hmmmm)

      FG 1987 – Vision with purpose (consumer beware for this may not be the case in any shape or form, just sounded good at the time).

      1982 – Arise and follow (those heading to Austalia)!

      FG 1987 – Cuts Hurt the Old and the Poor! (but ensure the financial classes have a bloody good time at your expense)

      FF 1977 – ‘Priming the Pump’ (so we can get the hell out of her if we need to)

      FG 1973 – Don’t Blame the Government, change it (how times have changed)

  10. G

    It is not so much Fianna Fail destroying the middle class, this is a global phenonmenon (intrinsically linked to neoliberalism) been going on for 30 years, just accelerated with economic crash.

    In time there will be the extremely wealthy, the working poor and those below the poverty line. Just means the concentration of production, wealth and political decision making in the hands of the few and more poverty now that the economy has tanked, especially with the masses of unemployed who will remain such unless they take dramatic action (i.e. leave the country).

    More social conflict, more aggressive police state will characterise that world and eventually people, at considerable cost, will rise up – outcome uncertain.

  11. Colin_in_exile

    Great article David, its time for the gloves to come off and land a few hard ones on our corrupt rulers.

  12. Re earlier post.

    The European University would be wholly (fees and all) funded by the EU and its raison d’etre would be to bring together the brightest students from all member states — purpose being to sow the seeds for a European network of excellence into the future.

    OK its also to utilise the excess supply of land and buildings; and we would have to go to the EU cap in hand and ask them to help us out — we used to be really good at that! (Jesus I regret joking a few years ago that FF had a grand plan to get us out of being net contributors to the EU!).

    Politics: FF and (Bertie) are a populist party — and no better way than our PR system to enforce same (and if Healy Rae gets a 3lane motorway from Kilgarvan to Kenmare — then even I am going to throw in the towel). FG are totally uninspiring — mainly because they seem to share way too much common ground with FF. I always had a belief that so long as FF had a watchdog party overseeing them — then there excesses could controlled. Noel O’Flynn is ok (but runs his own populist agenda — such as excess speed limits on the old N8 Watergrasshill to Rathcormac road).

    World Debt Bond: I am of limited academic ability; but it seems to me that debt (for people and industry) in the “(now ex) dynamic” economies is going to have to be re-structured on a global scale. Could a WAMA (World Asset Management Agency) work? The spectre overhanging the established World Economies remains deflation — and debt and deflation is a nasty combo.

    Sorry for sometimes giving David a hard time — but when he is on song he is excellent and could really help to lead us out of our hole. Its frustrating when he is in the rehash mode.

  13. PhilRussi –

    FG/FF – ‘sharing the common ground’- means the distance that it takes to secure and crystalise the pensions of ALL the Politicians so their rule is to ‘compromise and agree on almost everything’. It is only Joe Behan that is a man among the pack ( as per Tim ) ;

    The difference between a FF and a Criminal is that you always knew a Criminal would steal from you .

    Dermot Gleeson ( AIB) almost got Egg in his face .Look what Berlusconi got?

  14. Deco

    The Stuyesvant Town Property Ponzi Scheme in NYC went into crisis on Monday. AIB is exposed. Along with two US banks. Total exposure is 3Billion USD. AIB are saying nothing about the scale of their exposure. Nada. It all sounds very suspicious.

    Even more suspicious is the Media. A full 48 hours after the news broke, not one media outlet in Ireland is covering the story. The Irish Media seem to behaving in some sort of conspiracy of silence.

    Which proves that the media are just as complicit as the bankers. Or maybe their motives are concern for “our advertising sponsors”.

    It takes a relatively small share of the overall loan proportion to see AIB incurr a loss that would wipe out the current capitalization of AIB. That would be a very serious crisis for Ireland.

    I wonder is Cowen sobered up and ready to deal with this….probably not.

    • ThomasFergus

      Well given the bath that The Irish Times took on investing in myhome.ie, they’re obviously gonna keep quiet on the whole banking/property ponzi scam.
      http://www.independent.ie/business/irish/papers-website-deal-is-looking-shaky-1200515.html

      They’d rather talk about “tough decisions”, publish letters on Brian lenihan’s “bravery and patriotism”, and allow Stephen Collins write articles with statements such as “the debate on NAMA is over” before the Bill went through the Oireachtas.

      I suspect I disagree with you on how to fix this crisis Deco, but I’ll agree with you on one thing: The Irish media is the most craven and lazy in western Europe. Too busy making big investment decisions with the political big wigs to remember their true function: speaking truth to power.

      • G

        @ ThomasFergus

        Would have to agree – a paper much tainted and seriously lacking in any credibility. A champion of business (regardless of the facts).

        All very safe and meaningless. When was a major story broken on anything in particular.

        No, can’t upset the chattering classes at the breakfast table.

        I think ‘lazy’ is one way to describe it – ‘complicit’, ‘active participants’, ‘servants of the elite’ with FO’T the lone ‘Che Guevara’.

        • ThomasFergus

          “lazy” is what I’d describe the copy of the likes of Sarah Carey and the execrable Orna Mulcahy. “Complicit” and “active participants” is what I’d describe the work of the likes of Stephen Collins and Madam Editor.

          To be fair, I’ve always liked Fintan O’Toole (although at this stage I feel he should resign from the paper given its hard right direction) and Colm Keena has performed great service to the public interest over the years, not least in exposing Bertie as a money grabbing charlatan.

          • Deco

            Fintan’s glory day was when he took on the Beef Baron.

          • G

            Very interesting that you view in SC in that way, for reasons which I cannot state here, suffice to say I disliked her article in today’s Irish Times, its self-evident if you get a chance to read.

            Points well made overall. Irish Examiner pursues a similar ‘right-wing’ line, most recently with the most appalling hatchet job on Evo Morales – blaming him for the poverty, which I thought highly ironic given Bolivia’s history and current context.

            Getting ‘news’ in Ireland is a mission in itself.

          • ThomasFergus

            G…….Sarah Carey, Denis O Brien and Michael Lowry go back a long way….

          • G

            @ThomasFergus – So it would seem, she indicated it clearly in today’s article, a former employee of D O’B, a personalised ‘give me a job’ letter saved her from ‘emigration’, he’s a great man and all the rest………..

            I think people know where they have to go to get their ‘news’…………..

          • Deco

            Denis O’Brien is FG. And O’Brien’s media grab is all about getting FG into power,the same way that the IT props up the ILP, and IndoNews media props up FF.

    • ToddH1

      I don’t have the link but from what I remember reading there were two loans taken out for the properties, AIB had a portion of mezzanine, 2nd loan, to the tune of $50 million. As in most cases here in the States, banks get little to no money back on the second loans sine the properties rarely fetch enough in foreclosure to play back the banks on the first loan!!!

  15. Bamboo

    Hi Lorcan,
    I agree fully: spiritofireland/
    is the best idea we’ve had sofar.

  16. An awful lot of the middle classes bought not just a second property but fueled by taking loans against other properties a ‘property portfolio’.
    The children were sometimes set up and started their own property portfolio which like their parents ones were in effect built on sand.
    There is no bail out for these individuals (nor should there be). As rents go down, rental demand goes down and even worse still as interest rates rise , more and more will be in bigger trouble.

    • Colin_in_exile

      And many middle class people chose not to buy a first property, let alone a second one. You see, middle class used to mean being educated, and being educated used to mean being able to think for yourself, and thinking for yourself as opposed to thinking like the herd usually results in positive outcomes, until the government started using “we” instead of “some of us”.

  17. PaulJCollins

    Anyone intersted in setting up a new political party for reform and change. Its as good a time as any

    • PaulJCollins

      How about this proposal. Legalise Marijuana make Ireland the new Amsterdam.

      In addition to revenues of over €2 billion per annum, we could make on the sale of legalised marijuan in Ireland, we could expect another €2 billion per annum in tourism. Thats €4 billion a year, Sure we could pay for NAMA in little more than a decade.
      Tourism, hotels, pubs, restaurants & shops would all benefit from increased tourism and spending. Jobs would be created, Ireland would become green agan.

      Maybe we could set up a new “Green” Party.

      • G

        There’s enough people ‘off their heads’ in Ireland without encouraging more to be so through Marijuana use!

      • Paul , I agree with you here , but Hemp and Marijuana is not just for getting high , the first president of the USA was one of the biggest producers , as it can be used to make , Fuel, drinks, cloth, paper , rope and of course can be smoked.
        Why The Greens’ don’t pursue this plant still baffles me.
        Jesus ,..you can even build houses with it !

  18. Deco

    {
    But what if they don’t? What if the middle classes of the likes of Korea, Malaysia and Poland compete with us in a way they they didn’t in the 1990s? What if they are as educated as us and are half the price, hungrier and, most crucially, without the useless debts we have built up?
    }

    That is our most frightening reality – and it is squaring up to us. And nobody in Ireland is prepared to admit it.

    This is our country’s predicament. FF promised that everybody could be middle class. Unfortunately, we do not have the economic competitiveness to justify this reward for ourselves. So, basically our costs must drop dramatically.

    And for this to happen, the Irish concept of lifestyle will have to take a massive hammering. But it has become so outlandishly out of whack, we should stop deluding ourselves concerning this. The problem is us – us needs to understand that all of us need to work more for less money.

  19. StephenKenny

    Perhaps I’m just a bit jaded, or perhaps I’ve been watching this situation grow, unfold, and crash, for quite a few years now, and just feel legitimately disenchanted with things at the moment. I’ve watched the medias of 3 countries, and when they’re not in outright denial (the UK is the most extreme, in my view), they’re so far behind the curve as to almost qualify as purveyors of history.

    There are reasons for trying to get to the bottom of what’s gone wrong: There is of course a natural desire for justice, but there is also the very practical need to understand where we stand, before deciding how we’re going to leap forwards.
    Most of the solutions we come up with are, basically, business propositions. At some point, a business organisation (private, state owned, mixed, whatever) will have to form around a management team, raise the money, and attempt to execute.
    If the team is wrong, if the financing is wrong, if the objectives are wrong, if any one of a whole number of things are wrong, then it’ll just be yet another overpriced failure. At core, it is this that everyone is worrying about. If any of the ventures that we suggest is pushed forward, then, from all the evidence of the past 10-20 years, there’s a good chance that it’ll be headed by someone’s cousin, or politcal ally, will spend huge amounts of questionable political consultants, will diversify into a plethora of other areas, and will finally collapse in a heap.
    That’s why, in my view, it comes down to leadership. Until that’s right, doing anything useful will be like running thorough treacle, and on over a cliff.
    It is widely agreed here that the current leadership (FF/FG) is broken, and so to get any real change it is necessary to make people see what has really been happening, and thus support a real change in leadership.

    I’m a small businessman myself (that is to say I create and run businesses that are small), and am in the process of starting my next one. I love solutions, but in the case of the state, I’m not confident that we’re yet in a position, nationally, to start in a new direction.

    For one of the best overviews of the problems that we all face, I still turn to a lecture given by Prof Elizabeth Warren, several years ago. I’ve referenced it here several times, but would still recommend a watch, if you have an hour – it’s US facing, but very engaging, and full of detail.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=akVL7QY0S8A

  20. Philip

    I have a problem with the notion of a middle class in Ireland (same for England and Spain). I claim it iwas always a lot smaller than perceived – at least from an educational and professional point of view (yes, snob that I am, I do believe the educational quotient in this country is poor and leads to a population easily led by media & FF led sensationalism.) Were it really bigger – had we more people in industry (non-financial/construction) FF would never been in power. The “real ” cushy middle class own the media and the high up positions in the PS and really could not give a toss.

    Our “middle class” is an economic definition derived from the over expanded incomes of those in the construction trade and by consequence, the retail and financial trades. Note that none of the latter require much knowledge in the way of Hi-tech (a perrequisite for the knowledge economy). They add nothing of tradable value to ireland from an international context. The number involved in actual “industry” where things/ services are being designed and sold are focused in the MNCs and a few tiny domestic operations. Even food processing/ agri needs a bigger push.

    So to say the middle class will be demolished is merely saying that a group are now finding their true level of value. And we are not there yet. (Same for England and Spain)

    I have to concede, as a nation we voted for FF for goodies promised and we brought a lot of debt on ourselves)

    Anyway, the pain level is still low. That’s not to say we are miles from a social meltdown. Give it another 3-6 months.

    As for those of you believing we can save ourselves by our abundance of natural energy etc…we simply do not have the smarts or the capital to do anything significant for the next 20 – 30 years. And Spirit of Ireland’s feasibility is a test of people’s long term committment. We simply do not have that sort of mindset. It will never happen unless the Germans or Chinese invade.

    • Eireannach

      @Philip

      Considering cultural history, the British, Irish and Spanish have a lot in common, especially the lower and lower middle classes.

      The Spanish Empire plundered the New World for gold and silver. They didn’t earn their C16 wealth. The Dutch, by contrast, offered shipbuilding, textile weaving and financial and banking services to the Spanish to get access to the gold and silver the Spanish merely stole. Spain does not have a long history of trading itself to wealth, but they have a cultural memory of getting something for nothing.

      Likewise, in C16 the British and Irish began the Empire as pirates, raising the jolly roger under Captain Morgan and raiding Spanish galleys. The descendants of those pirates can be seen with tatoos and earings eating breakfast rolls and drinking cans of coke on building sites throughout the British Isles. They have a ‘smash and grab’ or ‘plunder’ approach to wealth – get in and get out quick, take the money and run.

      To make matters worse, these Spanish conquistador machos and British/Irish pirate types hate the French and Germans who they think of as ‘rules obsessed’ and airy-fairy intellectuals talking about complicated banking regulations, environmental regulations and so on.

      It is not, it can not, it must not end well for these ancestors of the plunderers of Empire. Now is their time to learn to be productive and constructive members of society, not short-termist and anti-social smash-and-grab gombeens.

      • “The descendants of those pirates can be seen with tatoos and earings eating breakfast rolls and drinking cans of coke on building sites throughout the British Isles.”

        Shiver me timbers, -now where did I leave that parrot ???
        I spent 30 years on building sites across the British Isles and elsewhere, am decended from fierce mountainy tribesmen, my hirsute aural appendages are devoid of adornment and my skin pristine pink.
        Bit of an erroneous generalisation??

        • Eireannach

          I’m not saying all builders are scum.

          I am saying that short-termist profiteers live among us in Britain, Ireland and Spain, and they have a colourful history.

          I’m also saying that the banks have tricked most of them by dangling short-term profits in front of them.

          I’m also saying nobody will save them because we all know it’s their own fault – even they know.

          Call it Karma – but then, they went to India to profiteer under the flag of the East India Company, not sit wasting around reading books about Indian philosophy and airy-fairy ideas like ‘karma’.

          • Eireannach

            To clarify – many builders are scum, some aren’t.

            Scum as in send the trash to Australia now that they can provide no further service to our society, because their CVs look like the scribblings of a retarded child. Yet they have pirate’s dreams of plundering their way to wealth through buy-to-let landlording or overcharging.

            We should persuade them that ‘there be treasure to be had in Oz, arrhh!’ and pack them off for good.

          • I’m with your sentiment generally but “Builders” is a very generic term. The small local guys bear little resemblance to the racketeers in cahoots with the banks etc. And a lot of these racketeers know nothing of the construction process at all. They are bottom line merchants with the “smelly builders” providing a master and servant service. Certainly some of these servants took a chance and tried to become Masters. Then got duly burnt. As many have said here, Tough Titty. Thats Capitalism.
            To go back to Davids article, the people who were duped, through greed or simpleton affliction, are left holding worthless assets, crippling mortgages, levied jobs and demanding Celtic Children.
            By year end, the poor buggers are cooked and a Tiger Class is born. Those who got caught because they thought they were in the know but found out what the rest of us knew all along.
            There’s only room for the “Few” to make real money in this country. So it has always been since JohnAllens Dun Aengus landed.
            Unless you are born into “The Pull” , or can seriouslly buy your way into it, then keep your little station or get out. Boggers and Jackeens alike.

  21. Philip

    We are the latter stages of a slow motion train crash. Everyone is flying through the air and generally out of control. There have been a few casualties so far but the visceral bits have yet to come.

    Without cynicism or sarcasm, I am frightened (even though my exposure is negligible). I believe Cowen and Browne had a few days off with the shenanigans up north. I think they are scared as well.

    The game is up. The great unravelling is commencing. http://money.cnn.com/2010/01/27/news/economy/Roubini_Davos/

    • Eireannach

      I’ve no exposure, but I’m not frightened at all. A worldview is crashing into the Earth, down to Earth you might say. In Ireland, even the most abjectly poor get EUR192/week, enough to buy your food plus a box of chocolates and your favourite sun-dried tomatoes or whatever.

      The fear is from the horizon of lost souls. Of course they’re lost!! The stupid clowns were competing to see who had the newest, most expensive car not 3 years ago. Now it’s all ‘gone wrong’.

      Well, who could have guessed that such thoughtless, self-centred and anti-social intoxicated exuberance would ended badly? Please!!

  22. lff12

    The problem in Ireland is not that “educated” people got rich its precisely the opposite. The gombeen mechanic was on 40k for charging you 25e to fit a 2 euro bulb, while graduates with M.Sc degrees were getting 19k a year in “entry level” positions that there was no further level in. There were thousands of really dumb people just charging more and more for basic services – because they could. And because they couldn’t see a point where the pyramid scheme would collapse.

    There are still lots of clueless, ignorant people out there and they are taking a long time to learn. You are telling me all the public servants who won’t budge an inch are “educated”? Far from it, a lot of the more educated and senior people are in despair because they know their jobs are on the line as well as pay cuts.

    The “middle class” created by FF was a fake middle class, a garish, clueless, greedy bunch of stupid people who couldn’t see the wood for the trees and stop pricing ourselves out of existence. Describing many of these people as “middle class” is like saying Katie Price is a classy bird.

    • Deco

      lff12 – Envy is not healthy. The real stupidity was that people were prepared to pay these people outrageous prices to fix a broken tap, when they ‘educated person’ could have bought a wrench and applied themselves to the problem.

      Except, one of the benefits of an Irish university education, is that it makes the receiver too good for rudimentary, everyday tasks : )

      • Original-Ed

        Too posh is more accurate.

      • lff12

        I can only only assume that you are far to clever to go to a dictionary of finance and get a definition of the word “rent-seeking”, which is effectively what happened in a huge number of professions.

        Last week I carried out a bunch of car repairs. Net cost in terms of parts was 40 euros, plus a drink for somebody who kindly held the bumper while I screwed it off and replaced a rear reflector lens. The fact that a mechanic would have charged me at least 200 euros for the same (minor) jobs raises serious questions about exploitation and manipulation of markets.

        Actually lots of people went out and learned to fix broken taps, paint houses, hang wallpaper, fit kitchens and even dig foundations themselves, etc, precisely BECAUSE they were aware that they were being exploited for jobs that don’t carry those economic values.

  23. paulmcd

    SYTLES OF GOVERNMENT — Switzerland V Ireland

    How many Swiss politicians does it take to change a lightbulb in their Assembly?

    Answer: None. The lightbulb was changed by the House electrician who was immediately available; and he is now performing the optional additional service of replacing aging wiring which he deems to be sub-standard.

    How many Irish politicians does it take to change a lightbulb in the Dáil Chamber?

    (If you are not one of the sheeple you will rephrase the question as follows: “How many Irish politicians does it take to NOT screw in a lightbulb when a new one is needed”).

    The answer is indeterminate and will take a number of generations to resolve — however here is the current Minister for Finance’s “least worst” attempt to deal with the issue when raised in the Dáil:

    ”This is not an easy question to answer. Fianna Fáil are not afraid of sitting here in the dark even if the problem has persisted for longer than was initially expected. There is no easy fix and there is no quick fix. The Taoiseach will shortly be announcing the appointment of a task force on bulb usage to report to the Government with a comprehensive programme for action.

    The offending bulb has been removed from its socket and is undergoing a rigorous analysis which will be completed in one month. As part of the international dimension to this problem I would like you all to note that the bulb in question was made in China. This fact may not offer solace — solus? – but it highlights the need to rein in the proliferation of bulbs and rationalise what is already there.

    In the context of the ‘very’ exceptional circumstances in which we find ourselves, everything possible is being done. Noel Dempsey is available to fly to the location of manufacture of the replacement unit and a Garda escort will ensure his speedy delivery to and from the airport. The Tánaiste is verifying that safety and quality standards are under control. She has arranged for the electricity to be shut off as there may be a number of faults to be rectified. Furthermore, the Tánaiste has reassured me that she has an exact copy of the bulb in Donegal and it appears to work fine. I must commend her diligence in taking the matter seriously and for having thoroughly investigated the issue at constituency level which is more than I can say for the Deputies opposite.

    The Government will not accept the populist measures being proposed by the opposition! There will be no cronyism displayed in favour of the lighting shop across the road. The cost of the replacement will be determined, through scientific analysis, by CIROC — the Cost of Installation and Refitting Oversight Committee. CIROC are already aware that we have difficult decisions to make and will ensure that this incident will not bring about an unnecessary loosening of fiscal policy.

    We have a strategy to deal with the complex issues involved in changing lightbulbs. Our partners in power, the Green Party, will assist us on the case. The Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Mr Ryan, is already checking that the replacement units under consideration are appropriate to our needs and will be monitoring compliance with environmental regulations. In addition, a working party has been established to prepare an environmental impact statement in relation to the disposal of the burned-out unit . . . .”

    ALAS, TO BE CONTINUED

  24. [...] How FF put middle class deep into ‘debtor’s prison’ [...]

  25. Bamboo

    For what’s worth I posted some ideas here

    • What a load of nonsense, but maybe you are just a teenager , but your Idea , a Supervised Farm !….talk to any REAL Farmer , it’s not ‘a wonderful life’

    • lff12

      Actually your ideas are excellent and I credit you with understanding that we have massive amounts of idle resources in terms of both people and tanglibles.

      The big difficulty we have to get over is preconceived notions about the “desireable uses” of once-commercial assets, fears of increased depreciation should idle resources be put to use, and a real sense of anger and injustice from many people who have been rightly screwed over in the last 10 years.

  26. Original-Ed

    Fianna Fail hit on a simple formula for electoral success back in the 30s, when they first came to power. They initiated a social housing programme that was to win over tens of thousands of voters that would normally vote for labour. This is what got the construction industry going and ever since then, they’ve become one and the same.
    Interestingly, on last Monday’s front line – social housing has become top of their agenda, and now that they’ll own thousands of houses through NAMA, it won’t be difficult for them to implement this policy. It’ll be win,win for them and their developer friends. History always repeats itself.

    See page 193 – Ireland 1912 – 1985 – link below

    http://books.google.ie/books?id=h19tLDUUPGYC&printsec=frontcover&dq=ireland+joe+lee&source=bl&ots=v4v0PlRRfm&sig=LgVRqzJ6mA9tBOY7B-aXBH8L3Ec&hl=en&ei=JEVgS8qQCMeOjAeKsvG1DA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=10&ved=0CCcQ6AEwCQ#v=onepage&q=&f=false

    • coldblow

      Great link. I wish I could do that. Unfortunaely, though, it doesn’t show pp 193 or 194.

      However Lee’s analysis is most interesting. I spotted this bit on p 195:
      “In assessing the impact of policy in these years it is necessary to keep in mind the probable alternative. McElligott [Dept Finance] was busy during htese years devising a series of hair shirt measures for the poor. Things must get worse before they got better. He had no solution to the slump beyond parroting the text book truths of his youth ever more stridently… McElligott indulged in prophecy masquerading as fact with the warning that if the budget is not balanced etc etc…”

      I was wondering if McElligott is still working with D/Finance…

      http://multitext.ucc.ie/d/James_J_MacElligott

    • ThomasFergus

      Quite simply, the best analysis ever given of modern Ireland. Explains briliantly the craven nature of our political establishment, its unwillingness to promote ideas, and the vicious treatment of ordinary people beneath the gombeenism and the piety. Recommended reading for everybody on this forum!

      • coldblow

        And he is particularly cutting on the subject of emigration and his satire of the elaborate self-deceiving Irish self-image is sublime.

        • G

          Think worth quoting this testimony in full, appeared in the Irish Times yesterday, I personally think the landlord should be arrested for exploitation.

          Lyndsey Crowley: clerical officer, Chief State Solicitiors Office:

          “I came out with €402 per week. It was €430 last year but from January I am down €28. I rent a basement flat on North Circular Road. My rent is €166 per week. When I was finding it really hard to make ends meet last year my landlord and I came to an agreement that if I did an hour and a half cleaning of the common area in the house every week that I would get a reduction of €21. Now I pay rent of €145 per week.
          “It is not ideal having to do that cleaning every week as I have spina bifida scoliosis and I have titanium and steel rods in my back. I cannot afford physiotherpy.”

          The other three testimonies were equally hard to read. p. 8, Irish Times, 27.01.10

          • lff12

            There has been a tradition for a long time in Dublin of landlords granting reduced rents to one or two tenants in return for carrying out a range of duties. In fact in my own years of renting in Dublin, it was very useful to have somebody trustworthy to hold a spare key or help with little problems. Its a shame however, that somebody who is clearly disabled is being exploited in this way. I knew one lady who more or less acted as agent for her landlord in terms of letting and getting repairs organised for tenants, I think she might even have collected the rent. Its not a hugely bad system as long as the tenant isn’t exploited.

  27. Tim

    Landlords and Bankers in the Forfas report on the high cost of doing business in Ireland (surprise! Wages are not the real problem!)

    http://www.progressive-economy.ie/2010/01/oh-those-landlords-and-bankers.html

  28. Tim

    Folks, “The 5s” are still developing on the Etherpad.

    All here should feel free to contribute:

    http://etherpad.com/OwNzsgQpSa

    • Tim , now we need an Alternative political party, one where our spokesperson on Education will have taught students, our Health person will be a Doctor or Nurse, Our Minister of Justice a retired Garda, The salaries will be capped at €60,000 and our taoiseagh gets farmleigh and a €100,000.
      Our National Decisions could even be voted by the general public via the net or text, we should be working with the technology we have even currently available to us. We could start a New Bank and bring it back to the days of Sienna a place for each trade and profession to do their transactions , not a house for gambling with our savings.
      Your an intelligent man , but now perhaps you should be thinking of living the past ( F.F.) and thinking Realy of Your Children’s future.

  29. Malcolm McClure

    Humanity splits along many other divisions, apart from class divisions. Therefore it is too simplistic to talk about the demise of the Middle Class. Let’s list a few other, easily recognised, dissimilar types of people.
    Skilled and unskilled.
    Convivials and teetotallers.
    Graduates and leavers.
    Healthy and illness prone.
    Married-with-spouse and others.
    Credulous and skeptics.
    Independent and dependant.
    Devout and dissolute.
    Stayers and emigants.
    Smokers and non-smokers.
    If the question being considered here is about how do we individually cope with this economic mess, then we need to first of all take a close look at ourselves, decide on exactly where we stand on the above and other issues and make that decision based on a deeper knowledge of ourselves.
    Having decided who you are, make sure that all your neighbours and acquaintences know you as that recognizable and consistent person. Dull but worthy, as most of us really are, if the truth were known.

  30. Nice work David,

    You talk about the middle classes; well I’ve got news for you there will be NO middle class in the country in a few years time
    With so much debt sloshing around and the total control of the news media we the people are being fed lies and dam lies by the powers that be!
    I could comfortable include my family to the “Middle Class” only a few months ago.
    Now experiencing the Dole life, for the first time in my 33 working years, I am shell shocked
    at 54 years the system now leaves me to the scrapheap .I still count myself lucky as my mortgage is a fraction of the national average and I have no debts to speak of ,but that can and will change if I can’t get a job soon .
    Jobs and, re-skilling and education are the answers to Ireland’s problems.
    Machholz

    • Tim

      machholz, Accurate, open, honest post. (And we have several hundred-thousand people in an even worse position; that is what is so frightening.

      Why are our crooked and bought-off media not reporting on the people with €400,000 – €500,000 mortgages, with no jobs and in receipt of HSE money (on a temporary basis only) paying their mortgages?

      Why no explanation that the “stay” on foreclosures will coincide, for many of these people, with the termination of their HSE mortgage allowance?

      Why is no-one questioning why the govt did not recapitalise the banks through these people and defaulting businesses, by giving them cheques made payable to the banks they owe, thus recapitalising the banks while wiping out their bad debts at the same time, with the same money, at no extra cost?

      Instead, they shovelled the recapitalisation Billions into the banks’ black holes and await the emergence of the bad debts to destroy the recapitalisation.

  31. Me thinks its time to sell our souls to the Chinese.

  32. Sean_Kelly is right – David’ McW blueprint for a new Irish model has to be built around our natural resources.

    The food market is strong here both at high end and mass market end. Lets work on that.

  33. johnm

    How about this for a possible idea ??.

    Who or what means the most to Brian Lenihan ??

    Why not brian Lenihan and for argument sake Micheal Martin withdraw their support from the government ??

    along with members of other political parties thay can start an emergency national government..

    Every td in the dail can vote for what they think will improve the country.They will think hard and concentrate as their results willhave a definite bearing on whether or not they will get re-elected. Who knows how tds would vote if there was not party whip forcing their hands? I would Imagine that they are not all crooked taking back handers…here is their chance to prove to their electorate what they really stand for and who they are.

    By startinq a natioanl governemtn Lenihan could get rid of all the dead wood in fianna Fail, out the door with all the non performers injcluding cowen,harney, the woman from donegal whose name I cant think of , willie O dea etc etc…

    then after the Natioanl governent has ran its term..we have a level playing field, Irish electorate wil have seen what people that care for the country can do, a new election and hope fully the experiences of the time we live will not be forgotten….

    They can start a new fianna fail party , call it new fianna fail….

    Brian lenihan declares tough times demand difficult decisions…

    He along with the best ?? minds in all the other political parties creates a national emergency governing party..
    Time span of 4 ?? years..
    this gives his old party fianna fail time to regroup,
    the national government uses the best people from all parties , puts people in roles that they actually understand.
    No more i am a politician because mam, dad or uncle /aunt was a politician. if they are capable of comprehension they get a job.

    first thing they do is pull the government out of all property deals . they loose their deposit but the money saved on inflated prices can be used for other means..for example my local town had bought a property from one of the religious orders at a price that can not or will no longer be realised..why not pull out from the deal, renegotiate and the money saved can be ringfenced for the school building imrovements that the town needs?? or maybe more computers that can be taught to the kids, there are plenty of grads out there that could be vetted and then allowed to teach kids…get a knowledge economy jumpstarted from an earlier age…

    I am back living in australia and driving around sydney yesterday i was struck by the amount of plannning that there is ..
    why cant we plan like this?/ I came to the conclusion that Ireland has always allowed for emigration, not like Australia that knew there would always be people that wanted to come here, that is why when you drive around the suburbs of sydney you are on main roads that have two or three lanes going in each direction!! In Dublin we have the m50 whch is being upgraded!! there was no real planning…what this says to me is that we need an overhaul of our mindset, we have to plan as if we have a future…this future should not be boats, planes out of the country…

    Also, when the national government have pulled out of all the Govt. deals…for property that is too expensive…then it time to say we are rethinking nama, The reality of money saved on all the local deals will resonance with people and will finally make sense to our now free voting tds..

    Another idea which I mentioned in an earlier post…

    Irelands big Thing abroad is our reputation for education..so..

    We become the Entry point to Europe for people seeking edcation. They Pay for our courses , rent our ghost estates and have to stay in Ireland for a minimun time of lets say 6 years…3 to 4 years for an educatin and then 2 years working…not on the dole ..in the community afterwards..The governemnt will give the best of them grants to start businesses and hire and train local people. This way if they leave after their time is up we will have locals trained and hopefully able to do what they started. In Return of all this we give these now educated tax paying people an Irish passport , this enable them to live in Europe. They will not be eligible for dole at any stage whilel they are in Ireland….There are a lot of wealthy parents out there that would love their children to be able to work and get educatedin Ireland. an Ultimatey have access to Europe.

    We were home for Christmas and experienced the weather. What we need n Ireland is somtthing like what they have n Australia. there are a number of bodies whose role it is to take cahrge or lead in emergencies..S.E.S or the rural bushfire brigade…ireland need on body like this whose role it would be to lead….not hide..lead when we have emergencies..this winter it would have been an immedite response to the Flooding and then also an immediate response tothe artic conditions, this si not brain surgery..all we needed was a figure or a leader to come on the tv and tell poepl we are in charge , this is what we are doing and for example in the ice…tomorrow at noon we will all give half an hour to our community..does your elderly neighbour have turf?/ coal ?? Logs?/ are thier pipes frozen ?/ can you clear som e ice from outside their door s??/ these are all simple things . the leader of the national task force for emergencies !! would come n the tv and broadcast practical things to do..

    I know this is all a bit rushed but just a couple of general ideas.

    people are ready for change, a national government would focu allour mnds and hopefully a new political ethos might rise out of it !!

    • National Government would have been a good idea – but thats Irish political mindset for you.

      The fact is that over the last 100 years Ireland has not been capable of planning coherently for itself. Australia devolved slowly from British rule and the benefits of this show in areas such as planning.

      In Irelands case – the only beneficial infrastructure was from the British legacy – Ireland’s 20th Century “planning” was appalling.

      Except we do now have motorways and that is one massive positive leftover from the Celtic Tiger.

      • But we did succeed in demolishing the West Cork railway in double quick time.

        I’ll have to quote Mr Lemass again.

        ‘The country is, I think, like an aeroplane at the take-off stage. It has become airborne; that is the stage of maximum risk and any failure of power could lead to a crash. It will be a long time before we can throttle back to level flight.’ (1961)

        Preceded by……….

        Fianna Fáil is a slightly constitutional party…but before anything we are a republican party.’ (1928)

        Patriarchial Elitist Republicans a la Roman Senate are most definitely not disposed towards egalitarian democracy for the plebs.
        To understand and move forward, we need to understand the indoctrinated mindset we are dealing with.
        Our Constitution was written to counter imperialists but to control Plebbery.
        Our founding elite saw intellectual class differences between themselves and the British Crown aristocracy. Plebs of both persuasions were still Plebs and by birth, would, save the odd exception, remain so. Thus social order would be maintained.
        It’s inconceivable that Patrick should suffer the inconvenience a little debt would bring, but Paddy can swing.
        F

  34. Yep, great article by David yet again.

    Its mostly the group of young mortgage holders in their twenties/thirties and forties who’ve been scammed big time by the banks and Fianna Fail and who will continue to pay into the future as FF heap further cuts/levies/cutbacks on this cohort to pay for the mistakes.

    Its the above cohort that require rescue, not the banks!

    Not even a voluntary group of builders, one soldier, one innovative idea to deal eg with their housing estates to finish the seeping sewage problems. FF have abandoned them! How about a national emergency committee to finish the negative equity housing estates?

    OT(off topic) I heard UK banking inquiry has got over 60000 q’s from the public that will be factored into the FF cover up inquiry. You want to ask a question, how’s about submitting it at a page I got here:
    http://www.namasayno.com/question.cfm

    But I’m not into FF bashing here. I think its a question of incompetence at the heart of government and the Dept of Finance.

    FF ran with these mandarins ,same for all the consultants, quangos, anyone FF thought had power were brokered into the FF power base to substitute for their lack of competence.

    Not having the Phd of the chinese central committee, they bought in brains/power from everywhere eg social partnership/quangos/consultants proxy brains not!

    Problem was the ship became rudderless without proper leadership. A free for all ensued.

    Meanwhile we’re cruising onto the rocks with ballast provided by NAMA and even more incompetent leadership!

    Hold tight lads!

  35. It’s not just Ireland, and it’s not just Irelan’s politicians. It’s simply because we get taxed for working and saving (creating real wealth) and rewarded for speculating in real estate (blowing up bubbles).

    Until we change the signals given by our revenue systems http://www.theiu.org/films/glasgows-stolen-birthright.html it’s going to continually repeat IMO.

    • Deco

      Bryan Kavanagh – you could have a point there. Basically honest living gets taxed. And all sorts of tomfoolery, speculation and roguery gets tax exemptions.

      Then we should ask to get this reformed also. Constanin Gurdgiev has the best ideas here – but he is kept off the media because he tells the truth about the banks and the IBEC elite.

  36. Ah But FF spin Doctors are on over time this week so
    The News today is about ? ….
    Yes the rise in Head Shops ,.God we can’t be having these places !
    This shows again how Stupid Middle Ireland really is , if they opened their eyes and took the heads out of their arses , they could see be allowing not just these Head Shops but also allowing legal use of Marijuana, we could tax it and save on policing .
    But not our Church going F.F bouys ,

  37. PaulJCollins

    The funny thing Bryan is Cannabis is a plant, and when you say to the church boys it was put on the planet by God, it grows here naturally, how can you ban it?, The Church boys say “its an evil plant, the devil put it there, to tempt us”. So they ban it, and they’ll continue to ban every little vice we find if they deem it unholy or bad.

    We also need to get rid of the Church and all forms of organised religion, with their outdated “Ghost sotries” Revolution is most defintely going to be bloody..

    • PaulJCollins

      Sorry Brendan, not Bryan

      • ah the Devil , it’s ok here to get hammered with drink as , sure we’re Irish ! … but sitting down having a coffee or tea and a smoking a herb ,..oh God next you’ll be robbing their houses to feed the habit !.

        Without doubt We NEED A REVOLUTION

        • Eireannach

          We don’t need a revolution – unless you mean a revolution in our attitudes and the way we behave.

          We need to grow up – the sniggering and giggling in bars, not to mention gawking at Sky Sports 24/7, needs to be replaced by active, engaged citizenship.

          All the rules are already in place – we can vote in local, national, European and even Seanad elections (if you are a graduate of NUI or TCD). We have a very democratic system. But we prefer Ruport Murdoch’s Sky, 75% of us read tabloid newspapers. I could go on!! It’s a cultural problem, an attitude problem. It’s not even an education problem.

          It’s an attitude problem.

          • I Totally agree with you Eireannach, I think we have advanced enough not to resort to guns and guerilla fighting , nor am I suggesting a Civil war , we had one before and look where it’s landed us today.
            I have wrote it here on countless ocassions in the past , Ireland Has To Sober Up, getting a few pints and watching Man Utd and the gormless x factor talentless twins will not get us out of this mess we have .
            We have a population smaller than a lot of Cities and yet we are over run with Quango’s and useless government employees who cannot be sacked !,
            We don’t need to do any more wave research or set up any more working committees to see about renewable energy. Why are our street lights not solar/wind/battery operated instead of been a weekly cost or payment to a ‘semi’ state monopoly ?. Why can’t we gather all domestic waste and regenerate it into fuel ( been done in USA) .
            But if we don’t sober up a start this cultural revolution , we will have a Very Sad Country within the next few short years,

  38. wills

    David.

    The middle classes i think is a concept which as soon as one puts it under the microscope it starts to crumble.

    Joyce covers this mirage in the desert in Ulysses extensively.

    The class system seen through the mind programming is not what one may initially believe to be.

    For example, there are people living in crumlin who are wealthier asset wise than people living in rathfarnham yet we all know who is determined to be working class.

    The overall socio economic system is a jig saw puzzle.

  39. wills

    David.

    I rather think the people who will end up in the debtors prison are going to be the people who share a similar mindset as opposed to a socio economic category.

    The mind set itself i figure will be variations on a theme and i reckon the theme is the following.

    An infantile refusal to ‘delay gratification’.

  40. wills

    David.

    I think your article is picking over some uncomfortable truths we all need to face into regarding accountability and reckless spending and excessive consumerism and so on.

    The banks got away with drowning people in debt because people signed the dotted line.

    The big question here is, i think, did people come under the influence of coercion and fear tactics to take out mindless debts, i think this is the million dollar question here.

    • G

      When every medium is targeted against you – media (Irish Times, Irish Examiner, RTE and satellite stations) – virtually every conversation about property or getting rich quick, peer and family pressure, private economists pushing the ‘get on the ladder ideology’ (Jim Power and co) and well paid to do so, government policy and business decisions dedicated to it, banks giving easy money (go on, get a car, you deserve it) – it would seem the answer is self-evident.

      And yet, there were still those who resisted, said no, and a small minority who spoke out against the short term economy.

      When people look back they will surely about this generation.

  41. Tim –
    Aye Aye Aye

    We want :

    New Fianna Fail

    then your 5′s policies can be initiated . Dont hesitate.

  42. Debtors Prison
    David you have explained this very well .There is another prison too that perhaps might have been more important and that is the ‘Ethics Prison’ .This is a lesser known factor to the public domain .I am referring to malicious conspiracy by a Regional Manager and two other senior management staff of Bank of Ireland who knowingly killed the rightful messenger while he was attempting to prevent a crime .When the Garda Commissioner found the truth after the trial he carried out a criminal investigation into the bank officials in 1993 and sent his files to the AG . As usual the AG gave no reason to not to prosecute.The Directors of Bank of Ireland refused to carry out an independent investigation and do not intend to change their minds.
    I was that Messenger and I believe there must have been many more who have been silenced when doing their Civic Duties.I am waiting for Nationalisation of Bank of Ireland.

  43. G

    I find it rather remarkable when alcohol and cigarettes have for centuries wrought havoc among our people, filled our A&E’s for three to four straight days every weekend, led to violence, injury and death yet now (and the timing is interesting) people and the media get excited about ‘the herb issue’ – it is quite astonishing.

    On RTE NEWS there were two ‘parents’ peering into a herb shop as if it was an Al Qaeda training camp, no such peering into pubs and bars which do far more damage, no attacking the drinks lobby for all their shennigans with alco-pops, prevalence of off licenses, advertising alcohol in cinemas in the middle of the day, supermarkets and corner shops full of the stuff etc

    This ‘drugs’ issue is seriously tangental to major issues while the double standards say a great deal about the mind control of this population, the most glaring problems are overlooked (institutional child abuse, alcoholism, massive unemployment, high illiteracy levels political corruption, nepostism, role of professionals in stifling development and innovation etc etc) or collectively ignored – instead we focus on a few arranged marriages and the selling of marijuana – it has truly descended into farce – a classic deflection mechanism.

    I bet FF have been sitting on these issues for about 5 years and had them kept in the file named: “in the event of economic collapse, OPEN!”

    • Dilly

      Many corner shops removed half of their frozen food section, in order to install fridges and shelves for alcohol.

      • ToddH1

        Dilly…Alcohol helps with the profit margins for most corner shops or any shop at that. Here in the States , my local grocery store has wine displays throughout the whole store!!! You can’t go 20 feet in any direction without tripping over a wine display!!!

  44. John ALLEN
    I know exactly where you are coming from John,
    Firstly I commend you for you for having done the “Right Thing, having followed your conscience
    And more than likely you would have had to pay a heavy price personal, and financially no doubt!
    I too had a similar situation, but mine was in the Hotel Industry,
    I was a senior manager in one of Dublin’s Top Hotels; I had a large number of managing staff under me
    One day, one of my line managers came to me and asked me to investigate “deductions “from his salary
    After going to the accounts department I was shocked to find that a Director of the company had dictated to the accounts department, they should take a certain amount from his salary each month without first getting a court order or even asking the line manager permission.
    Watts more I also came across irregularities regarding the pension payments for the staff pension, it appeared that there funds were not being paid into the fund, from time to time and the fund balance was declining and rising
    I confronted the Director concerned and I was left in no doubt that I was sticking my nose into something that I was not supposed to and I best get on with my own job or else!!!!!!!
    After a few days thinking I decided to do the right thing and approach the Chairman of the board
    On telling him all I knew, I was asked to say and do no more as he would now take action!
    Three days later I was sacked, he must have been involved himself and as a result I was blacklisted as a trouble maker and I could not get a position anywhere else
    I finally set myself up in my own business and up to a while ago I was successful
    I also took legal proceedings against the company to retrieve the funds taken from my line manager and was successful; however I was not able to take the company to court because of my own sacking as I was in my probation period
    I have no regrets, I did the right thing
    But the crooks are still in place and probably still scamming their own staff!

    • Bamboo

      John, machholz
      I think there are lots of individual cases like yours. Probably so many that you can’t regard this as an individual case anymore.
      What I hear lately in the media is a communication trick by saying: “I can’t comment on individual cases.” Anybody in a public interview applies this trick. By saying that you have in essence put yourself in a comfortable position and allow yourself to distance from it.

    • Dilly

      machholz,

      This is why the probation period was invented, in order to find out if you will play the ‘YES’ game, and never question anything. It is not only who you know, it is also what you are prepared to ignore in order to get that fancy title and company car. Of course this is all coming to an end now, the great unravelling has started. My brother had a similar situation about 20 years ago, he went to England, and then Spain. Even with the economic situation over there, he is still doing better than he would here, he says he could not come back no matter how bad business was in Spain (too many bad memories of doing business here).

    • coldblow

      Machholz
      A close relative of mine spent many years working for a well-known Midlands hotel. The owners decided to close it down and knock it and brought in a hatchet man as manager to get rid of the staff and save them the statutory redundancy. So our boyo set about his task with a zest (he must have been on a fat commission) and yelled at, insulted, accused and threatened all around him. “I’m not ******* standing for that! Well **** you, I’m leaving!” was the universal (and understandable) response and they’d up and leave. In time he was the only one left in the place (apart from a few Latvians drafted in to run the place as long as it remained a going concern), rattling around on his own in a big, dark empty building. Everyone in the town knew what was going on and he’d become a cause celebre. As the end approached your man turned up the heat, he’d phone him on his nights off and shout abuse and accusations. Things would go missing mysteriously…

      He stuck it out (he’s as cool as a cucumber) and got his redundancy but unless I’d known him personally I wouldn’t have believed it.

      • G

        A friend of mine was so pissed off at his local FF politician and the government generally (he is a carer with two intellectually disabled brothers and a sick elderly mother who had his meagre allowance cut) that he rang the politicians home number at 3.45am and said to the guy: “what the f**k are you doing about the situation in Tibet?”

        I thought I would die with laughter when he told me the next morning.

  45. Bankers Crime :
    At the time I was a registered auditor reporting verbally a perceived serious crime that was not compelled on me to do so by all professional institutes that I was a member of.To safeguard the negligence of senior management of the Bof I and after they had written to me to sue the Gardai for negligence , they subsequently committed perjury .Tongue in the cheek Directors ignored the affair .
    It was strange that everyone believed me then including the best barristers and judges in Dublin and the banks were allowed to continue their culture of Crime elsewhere .At the time it was a situation would the jury believe in the bankers or the accountant .That was the balance of probabilities ‘then’.These Senior Management do no justice to their hard working staff members and have caused grave injustice on them in light of the recent bank revelations and their sub culture they have created and foisted.GREED is the center of gravity.

  46. Amazon Fly – if the strength of the displaced air from the wing flapping of the small fly causes the distruction of the might of the powerful thousands of miles away then worship the fly and kill all your mights.

  47. Jurisprudence :
    How can we legislate to penetrate the abuse of the priviledged in ivory towers ( Bankers) under licence from the Minister and thus stop causing the the maelstrom of incestual discourse against the common good and State Public Policy?
    We need to create a Forum to allow Civic Minded Citizens to have their voices heard in public to preserve democracy .Bank of Ireland claims to support democracy outside their own walls but its mandate to represent its customers / citizens within the democratic process has little basis.Banks need to be legislated to protect the stakeholder …the customer….the good neighbour…..and the civic righteous.

  48. wills

    The banking system is a tool to make credit provision for the community.

    It can be either put to function as a tool or put to function as a weapon.

    It depends on the tool user at both ends how its use actualizes.

    At both ends there are those who use it accordingly to it s tool function and at both ends there are those who use in in non compliance with its tool function.

    The weapon / tool users as opposed to the tool / tool users must be put under inspection and their machinations in all of the tool / weapon use exposed.

    • G

      The old adage stands, if you want to rob people legally, set up a bank.

      The people at the top are generally interested in one thing and one thing only, P-R-O-F-I-T – all systems, all employees are there to serve that end, whether it is done on a large scale or small.

      If you are unfortunate to have a conscience and chose to work in such places, you are on a hiding to nothing, some play the game and do well out of it, others play the game and get hung out to try so the higher ups can save their asses when things go wrong, others chose not to play the game, expose wrong doing, they more often than not are bullied, marginalised and eventually chose the door or are shown it.

      It goes on in all kinds of organisations, so I can only imagine what goes on in financial institutions.

      I applaud whistleblowers and those who take a stand, but people should equally be aware of what they are getting into and who they are working for before they cross the threshold – they ain’t charities, and even charities are full of back stabbing, careerists, its a large aspect of human nature, just look at the world – those who believe in might, violence and aggression have turned it into a living hell for the VAST majority of people. 80% of the world’s population live on a dollar a day, a lot less than that, and a lot of it is by design.

      Schopenhauer said the ‘world is hell and people are its devils’ – its slightly overstated, but in many respects devastatingly accurate.

      Banks and financial institutions, as we have seen, will do ANYTHING for a buck!

  49. DH

    Would somebody please start a New Irish Government and a New Irish Bank?

    It’s blindingly obvious the ones we have dont work.

    • ToddH1

      Well for the big boys of commerce, probably needed…but for the everyday person, why not pull out of the AIB/BoI of the world banking system and work with your local credit unions. I have found them to be more customer friendly and have a better foundation in sound banking.

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