October 26, 2010

How long before the people crack?

Posted in Ireland · 229 comments ·
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Most political societies are divided along lines that are broadly left and right.

Not here.

We all know that there are oddities in the political system in Ireland.

Politics in Ireland still suffers from a civil war hangover that means our two largest parties are both ‘right-leaning’, the only option today being the now meaningless choice between a ‘pro’ or ‘anti’ treaty government.

The soft left in Ireland, represented by the Labour Party, is making strides in the polls (as it always does in an economic downturn), but it will have difficulty turning good poll results into seats in the Dáil, due to the concentration of its support in urban areas.

None of this should be news to anyone, but to an outside observer, it might seem odd that both of our (current) largest parties are broadly to the right in political terms.

This confusing right/right/left divide in Irish politics hides the true divide in Irish society, which is between the rich and the poor.

This is not a purely political or social point, because the lesson of this global crisis is that the economic performance of more equal countries has been better than those that tolerate large disparities.

Anybody who keeps an eye on economic data (like unemployment numbers or GDP) will know that such figures are always reported as percentages of something else, or percentage changes in the previous level.

For economists, this makes sense, but many of the rest of society percentages are just away of hiding the reality behind some of the figures.

For example, I was talking to a friend the other day. He has been living on social welfare for the past year.

He has two children in school.

As always these days, the conversation quickly moved to the forthcoming budget and the cuts that it would bring.

His view was that a 10 per cent cut to social welfare was coming, and he was genuinely scared about what this would mean for him and his family.

‘‘A 10 per cent cut across the board might sound fair, but a 10 per cent cut for someone on a good civil service income might mean only one holiday a year.

For me, it means running out of money on a Wednesday instead of on a Thursday.”

This statement jolted me from my admittedly cloistered journalistic world. In truth, I haven’t run of out cash in the middle of the week since I was a student, and didn’t need the cash anyway.

But here was an old mate describing the terror of Thursday, when there is absolutely nothing left, when he has to look his children in the eye and they know what that look means.

For my friend who, like many, largely missed the Celtic tiger and the property boom – despite having a decent job which he lost two years ago – the cuts that are coming seem grossly unfair and unequal.

He was nearly in tears as he showed me the front page of last Friday’s newspaper, with the headline saying that the government had paid €30 million for advice during the banking crisis, which turned out to be useless.

‘‘Tell me how a 10 per cent cut in social welfare is fair, and that €30million is ‘good value’,” he said.

Of course, I couldn’t tell him, because it certainly isn’t fair or good value.

The €2.5 billion the NTMA has put aside for the costs of running Nama is not good value either, nor is it fair.

And what about the fact that there are more than 60 solicitors’ firms on the payroll of Nama?

My friend, who has never been a radical, dismissed Nama as a ‘‘class rescue scheme for the professional classes’’.

As he headed off, I asked myself, ‘‘How far is he from taking to the streets?” There are now hundreds of thousands of people like him.

Unemployment, as measured by the live register, has risen from 4 per cent to nearly 14 per cent in the past few years. It can be described clinically as a ten percentage point rise.

Others looking for context might use the line, ‘‘it was worse in the 1980s’’.

As a percentage, the number was higher in the 1980s,but the real story is that the actual number of people on the live register now is at the highest it has ever been.

Each of the approximately 450,000 people on the register has a different story of the misery, but we mostly chose not to listen.

Instead, by hiding behind percentage points and cold statistics that disguise this misery in our society, our politicians are being true to their right-of-centre leanings.

For me, the idea of your own children being ‘‘knowing’’ enough to realise that look on Daddy’s face on a Thursday means that there is no more money is enough.

At what point do these people crack? Will it be when they hear the public sector unions warn about further ‘‘draconian’’ pay cuts?

Will it be when another billion euro goes into the banks? Or will it be when the banks foreclose on yet more houses?

Your guess is as good as mine, but old fashioned political analysis suggests that there is a point where the whole thing blows.

What will that point be? When will formerly chilled-out, well-balanced people like my friend say, ‘‘that’s it’’?

Last Friday, his anger was directed at the average public servant.

Whether this is fair or not (and I don’t happen to think it is) the fact is that, in 2002, average weekly wage public sector earnings were €704.

They are now €904 – a rise of €200 per week, which is about the total dole payment for my unemployed friend. Remember, both the public sector worker and the welfare recipient are dependants of the state.

Against this background, and ahead of huge decisions on taxes and spending, it is interesting how little this government taxes income.

We can see from chart 1 that we have the lowest rate of tax on income in the EU at 24.6 per cent. This will rise substantially in the years ahead. Indeed, chart 2 shows we have the lowest rate of government revenue as a percentage of GDP in Europe.

This will have to rise. We know that tax increases hurt the rich.

We also know that expenditure cuts hurt the poor.

We also know that the number of poor people is rising very rapidly.

My friend wasn’t poor two years ago; he was getting on fine.

Today, he is on the breadline.

There are hundreds of thousands like him.

When will he crack?

Have the gardaí considered what the tipping point will be?

Do they have an estimate for this economic tipping point – when they put on the riot gear?

A budget that is biased towards more cuts than tax increases, which thus widens the gap between rich and poor, must surely bring that day a bit closer.


  1. johnny ferguson

    They will be known as the Christmas Riots.
    We have a tendency to simmer, fume and explode. It characterises all resistance thus far in our history. And our mythology is full of it.
    Storm’s a coming.

    • yumyumyum

      not to make matters any worse but does anyone remember this comment?
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hfjGSfuSQpA

      • adamabyss

        Utter scumbag. I don’t know how anyone ever voted for that odious man.

        Talking of voting, I have never voted in my life and at the age of 38 will probably vote for the first (and last) time early next year when we have an election here.

        I’ve never been in the country long enough to vote and couldn’t be bothered to be honest. I have been banging on here for a couple of years about what a waste of time it is and I still believe that. If I wanted to change things I would run for election, something I haven’t ruled out by any stretch of the imagination but right now I’m too young and green and have to finish my studies first.

        Anyway, I’m going to vote this one time. I’m using it as a kind of experiment – just to be more involved; to have a reason to investigate the various local candidates (I’m in Lucan, West Dublin – what constituency is that?) and just to see what a ballot paper looks like and how I will make my choices.

        I have absolutely no clue who to vote for, I know they are all a bunch of chancers but as I said, I’m determined to do it this time so in the absence of a Messiah-like candidate (or party), I’m edging towards some combination of Labour and Fine Gael. I know, I know – they are all the same but at least they can’t be as bad as Fianna Fail. I’m also garnering some opinions from my parents, friends and fellow students at Maynooth.

        WHO SHOULD I VOTE FOR IN WEST DUBLIN? Who is a good candidate/person/party representative in this constituency?

        All suggestions welcome. Thanks, Adam.

        • adamabyss

          P. S. if David McWilliams or like-minded people set up a party or some sort of organisation, I would vote for them in an instant.

        • liam

          Its one perspective on voting. The idea that the individual can make a change. Its also a hard one to sell. I prefer to look at it from a different point of view: as a citizen in a democracy, one has a duty to vote (preferably in an informed and responsible manner). Feel free to disagree.

          Of course, the option that you are most likely looking for is one that you won’t find on an Irish ballot paper: NOTA – None Of The Above.

    • THRASHTHENEWS12

      How long before the people crack? mm Let me think.. Since March 2009 we have had a cyclical rally in asset prices and economies around the world, particularly emerging markets. They have grow at a rapid rate. Cheap Labour/Low Costs rich in natural resources and innovative with high populations and exponential progress in education China/Brazil India etc etc.. Meanwhile Ireland has suffered worse than any country anywhere since the Great Depresssion. We are currently at the top of wave 2 in a 5 wave Grand Super Cycle Bear Market. The 1st wave was the Crash in 2007-2009 2 period was a cyclical and reflation upturn in the markets . We are at the end of that cycle and about to enter the most unforgiving part of the Secular Bear Market. The Irish Govt has quadrupled it’s bets on the property market and banks at the worst time in History..Let’s forget the debate over Austerity versus Stimulus. The kind of forced Austerity that is coming will be too much for society to bear!! There will be civil unrest on a mass scale by 2015 and Ireland will have no choice but to default or leave the EURO or both. The Irish people cracked, when they believed Economists paid by estate agents told them the price per M2 of their houses were worth more than central London and Paris or Manhattan and Grafton Street was different to any High Street in Large UK City never mind Bond Street.. Irish people got what the deserved by ignoring the fact they were consistently voting for small minded crooks to run their country! The price is going to be hard to bear when the GLOBAL BEAR Market resumes it’s inevitable course. It still costs more to eat out or drink in Dublin than Major Cities in Europe. The Irish still earn more than the Chinese and Indians. BTW Your houses no longer constitute an income!!! You have to be more competitive or just vanish into bankruptcy and the scrap heap! There is no plan B, it is just a huge bet on house prices as usual, that has been Quadrupled by your government. You all cracked long ago, now it’s time to wise up or rise up !!!

    • THRASHTHENEWS12

      What history of rebellion? Unless the English invade or someone spills a pint, there won’t be any riots on the streets! Anyone who has an education or a skill and a bit of attitude has left or is booking the ticket! What’s left is the same inbred insiders and welfare recipients!The same old Irish, small minded and placid whatever way you look at it! You have to stand up and be brave tell the Nazis in Brussels and your wealthy ruling inbred insiders where to go, default on the bondholders and sell off the overseas assets in NAMA pronto! You shouldn’t think you are Japan either! They had deflation for 20 years, but they had an innovative export economy into a GLOBAL BULL MARKET of EPIC PROPORTION.. Think more Zimbabwe/Argentina without the correction or Uruguay at the beginning of the Century! You are not different, but your timing is much worse! Get off your asses and stop watching X Factor hoping it will be ok.. You must know that a bad gambler always keeps doubling up on his best, hoping and believing he can never be wrong! It is exactly what the incompetent fools in your government are doing with NAMA and BANKS in Ireland now. Quadrupling the bet at the worst time possible.. Good luck to you all, but I fear the worst for you!!

    • eoreilly2

      WE are a very laid back sort of nation, a very disjointed one, a lie back and wait sort of crowd, not exactly like the french, who like a good protest, we’re more like french poodles..Grr..think we’re mad but we’re not really..very sad.

  2. Hi David,

    Good article – I would make the point, however, when you say:
    “We can see from chart 1 that we have the lowest rate of tax on income in the EU at 24.6 per cent. This will rise substantially in the years ahead. Indeed, chart 2 shows we have the lowest rate of government revenue as a percentage of GDP in Europe.”
    that the neither the tax rate issue nor the spending issue is as simple as you state.

    On taxes, tax free allowances in Ireland are €18,000. In France and Germany they are €6,000-€7,000. On the other hand, there are few countries that have a higher marginal tax rate than Ireland does. Your readers might be interested in this quick quiz on Ireland’s income tax:
    http://www.ronanlyons.com/2009/07/28/a-little-quiz-on-irelands-income-tax/

    On spending, you say potay-to, I say potah-to. If you measure the government’s size relative to national income, not output, it’s probably the largest in the EU:
    http://www.ronanlyons.com/2009/10/21/tax-increases-or-spending-cuts-is-irelands-government-too-big/

    • liam

      Ronan, all, a slightly stupid question:

      I’ve always wondered: why do we quote relative to GDP, surely GNP is the figure that Government exercises a bit more control over? Its also the bit that faces the most tax, since, as we found out in relation to Google the other day, our FDI’ers are well able to minimise their exposure to the exchequer.

      So to me it seems that Irish GDP is strongly linked to the performance of the world economy, but is possibly less relevant in a discussion on taxation and public spending. Would welcome comments/criticism of this view.

    • Tim Johnston

      Great links, Ronan, thanks. re: the second article, it’s suprising to see Norway so far down that line, I understood that they have a huge government there, in one of the countries with the highest percentages of employees in the public sector in the world – over 40% if I recall. I think Ireland’s is around EU average at about 20% of the workforce. Please correct me on this.

  3. Peter Schum

    Whether we like it or not, we are heavily dependent on external institutions such as ECB or possibly IMF, for national recovery. Whilst the thoughts of riots can be seen as more of a possibility as more & more of the population hit breaking point, it would send a very bad message to the rest of the world, and may cost us a lot more in the long term. Perhaps those who are feeling most marginalised can put their energy & resources into creating a truly left of centre alternative, and shift the power away from the pro & anti treaty parties. Surely we have learnt from our experiences in Northern Ireland that the democratic route is the only way to make lasting change. Now is the time for the leaders in the marginalised society to step forward, and institute change. Any takers?

    • Harper66

      “it would send a very bad message to the rest of the world and may cost us more in the long term.”
      If the last two years has taught us anything it is that sending out the “right” message will only get us higher rates and jeers from the stock exchange in London.

      Sorry to say but even your wording highlights the disconnect you have from people expierencing the real pain in this country……
      “Perhaps those who are feeling most marginalised can put their energy & resources into creating a truly left of centre alternative”

      You arrogance astounds me.

      This is crisis for the those that can afford it, for those on the margins it is devastating. We have the working poor who are being pushed in to finacial meltdown.organise a political alternative ? the majority of these people dont know which way is up or down not to mind putting together a political party.

      Common sense. Any takers?

      • crossroads

        +1 Harper66

        The current policy of, “sending out the ‘right’ message,” has not worked. The government should be doing what is right for the people and the country, not prostrating the country in front of the markets.

        The people are struggling to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads. They want change and a new alternative but don’t have the resources to put it together.

        Meanwhile, those with the budget and resources are too close to the inside to step out of line, so while the ESRI raise their voice to say that the 2014 3% target is too onerous and will damage the country, they immediately pulled back on the statement in the same report effectively saying there is, “little room for manoeuvre,” and, “it is to be hoped that there will be beneficial dimensions to the austerity programme but the challenges are immense.”

        And that in a nutshell is governement policy and vision. ‘Do what you think the Market wants, cross your fingers and hope!.

        The voices on the outside (Inc DMcW) all know that concentrating on job creation, efficiencies and asset building will benefit both the citizens and generate the returns which inspire the Market investors.

        Meanwhile, the asset/citizen-stripping continues.

      • “Your arrogance astounds me”
        +1

    • liam

      Hello Peter.

      You make some interesting points. But I think you are also making some assumptions that are incorrect.

      Democracy is certainly a laudable objective and while Ireland may possess the affectations of democracy, that is all they are. I agree that political turbulence of any kind would certainly send a very bad message to the rest of the world but it does not follow from this that we should continue with the status quo either.

      Ill informed worrying about what the markets will say or how the ECB will react is largely bluff and spin by the Government and political system that is protecting the existing centers of power and wealth. This kind of static economy is no good for anyone. Worst of all it in no way reflects any kind of aspiration for the type of country that we want to build.

      There has been no shortage of people prepared to step forward and effect change in Government. The problem is that the Irish political system is like a drug addict that refuses to admit they have a problem, so instead of engaging with its critics, the State sets out to discredit them as individuals. Contrast this with what happens in the UK and other countries where non-political experts in their field often receive advisory positions in national parliaments, with the full acknowledgement that the reason they are being appointed is because politicians are broad generalists and don’t possess deep expertise.

      So many people have trotted out the “we need a new political party” line and its doomed to failure. The existing system is configured to maintain the status quo.

      Perhaps those that feel most marginalised might eventually include state employees, including the Gardai or the Army. Have you ever considered that?

      What if they decide put their energies in to finding common cause with each other, storm Leinster House and burning that living museum to the ground?

    • malone

      Its easy to know that you are not hard up for money and have to face the dole queue every week.Who gives a shit about the rest of the world thinks ? Look what is happening in France at the minute , they are not taking cuts lying down , there are protesting as the French do, You say the the only way forward is the democratic way , did the state of Ireland come into being by democratic means ?, no it did not , it came across by revolution ,and it seems that it might just happen again ,maybe it might be no harm actually .It might clear out the shit thats there .
      I think you need to think about your facts again Mister Peter Schum because that is pure crap that you’re talking .

    • BrianC

      Hi Peter

      You may be stirring the pot a bit. No harm as it can force one to think a little differently. Firstly Ireland Inc is so small we are of actually of no real significance to the rest of the world. I think they probably look upon us as an interesting social experiment. So we are of little interest to the IMF and the ECB but we can still spoil the euro broth with a default so it is in their interest to not let that happen. But Ireland needs real change and is better able to do that from within as opposed to adhering what is enforced by others.

      Why did you have to drag in the North. Anyway here goes.

      The kicker is the fact that if you look at our history closely we can be quite a bit violent and Gemini faced a bit like Collins chatting away to the British whilst at the same time murdering their policemen in the North. Now your ordinary terrorist if such exists cannot exactly go down to the local library and pick up the manual as to how they can conduct guerrila warfare but they seem to get the hang of it pretty quickly and it is a carbon copy of what transpired in little ole Ireland. So when I look at the North I do not see civil order and peaceful democracy earned by the rule of law and the ballot box I think you will concede that was denied to a certain sector in the North. I also do not believe that violence against the community achieved anything at all. What I do believe is that somebody with the smarts figured out the equation – making the British Govt realise that all the terrorists had to be was lucky once and they the British Gove had to be lucky all the time (a very costly endeavour) was not enough – no they figured that force precisely delivered at what meant most to British society predominantly the uppre ruling class would remove the inertia to securing their objective. So on the day that a bomb blew up in Canary Warf all the insurance companies and premier banks had ‘verbal’ representations the very following morning to the PM handing in notice that they were quitting the UK unless something was done. And hey presto the real talking commenced. The thing is a criminal terrorist has a price all you have to do is work it out the problem is a Nation builder now that is a far bigger kettle of fish and price does not matter but terms do which go beyond price. The Americans are still trying to work this one out but they will get there some day. Yes the democratic route is the only true way to make lasting change but to commence the journey on the route to the lasting change that most often requires the engine of physical conflict active violence. I know so pathetic in one way and so short sighted and the political road is far better I accept that but I live in a real world. The better way is what Ghandi demonstrated but that requires infinite inordinate discipline namely passive resistance to deliver change. I do not think it is in the Irish nature to do nice peaceful French type mass demonstrations with a little soft physical rough and tumble to attract media attention. No in our psyche and in our heart and soul we know such peaceful mass demonstrations do not really achieve anything so we do not really bother with it. But if the Irish do get on the streets en mass then there is no need for students to be in the fray to ignite absolute violence no we just get down straight to it and when the adrenalin kicks in then things get ugly very ugly. We do not need that not because it gives out the wrong message or image to the rest of the world no they do not enter the equation we want to retain a peaceful society where the political establishment enjoys the trust of its citizens.

      Those in the marginalised society do not always have the means to pursue the political road to secure justice and equity hence they do not engage to make the change. However, on occassion when they are pushed to the extreme this can precipitate revolt leading to violence a bit like an animal striking out where the ultimate form of defence is attack and push it too far and you have open violent conflict and not that easy to distinguish.

      I think when you say ‘Now is the time for the leaders in the marginalised society…….this could be seen as somewhat negative in perspective …I mean what were these marginalised people doing all along. Now by my understanding I think there should be no marginalised society and that our society votes in a Government and puts good faith in the chosen few to truly represent and ‘serve’ all Irish Citizens as per the Irish Constitution/ Bunreacht Na Heirann and I do not recall anything in that document favouring one sector of society over another. When an Irish Government starts to act as that which is now manifesting the favouring of certain interests at the expense of all then social cohesion starts to dissolve and the more it disolves the more trouble is stirred and real problems come to the fore and radicals can emerge and the long road of misery can commences and it may be very hard to get that demon back into the box.

      We do need new leaders to step forward and lead our Nation for the betterment of all leaving none behind and favouring none at the expense of others. We actually need people like DMCW to step forward and let them know we are there to work and help them achieve the required change to deliver us from the nonsens of a marginalised society. And I am sure you would be willing to help in whatever way you can.

  4. Puschkin the Black and White Cat

    When will the people crack? , I predicted the property crash in 2000 and thought it must come by 2002, but alas I was 5 years early. Yes, the Irish will crack, but when?. Will “crack” mean that the Irish will refuse to vote for FF,FG and Labour ( the “all the same” far right parties ) or will the “crack” mean petrol bombs and riots ?. I just don’t know. The “government” has built a powerful machine consisting of RTE and the news papers, they have a police force and a legal system totally at their behest. I simply don’t believe the people will “crack”, I believe there will be long drawn out recession lasting 15 to 20 years with the old guard in control (FG,FF and Labour again). The steam will be released by emigration and the political control held by immigration. But I don’t think the “boyo’s” will give up the country yet. I was at the first and second NAMA marches in Sept 2009, on the first march it was suggested that 45,000 would turn up, I counted 1,200. At the second march it was hoped 25,000 would turn up only 1,700 were present, I guess the English football was on those days!
    “No Pasaran”

  5. Deco

    I disagree.

    Firstly, most parties here hog the centre left position. And all of them move to the left when they thing it is opportune to do so.

    Secondly, FF are not right wing. FF had one right of centre front bencher in the last ten years, McCreevy, and he got shafted. In his absence the rest of them all went on binges of state spending programs of one form or another.

    Thirdly, the only party that is liable to take a right of centre position on anything and stay there when an argument starts is FG.

    Additionally, the political parties are proxies for IBEC and ICTU to one degree or another. FF try to please both, FG IBEC, and the ILP ICTU. So politics is meaningless in a sense, because it has already been decided.

    Besides, the real power, as shown throughout the Anglo Banglo business, comes from Brussels. Corporate lobbyists have a lot of impact – which is what Jens Peter Bonde has been telling us for over a decade.

    And finally, we all have to learn that we must ignore the official line on just about anything to do with money. This is because the media is compromised by ‘our advertising sponsors’. This means that anybody who was naive enough to spend like the media and the establishment encouraged us to spend, must realise that they have been duped. Getting angry and blaming the party in power is pointless, if the other options are just lining up for the same interests. In other words, contrary to that clown Dermot Ahern, you should save for the rainy day, you should use your brain about Irish property, and as Eddie Hobbs advises, you should apply some logic and intelligence into how you spend your money. You cannot rely on the social welfare system in a country that is heading towards IMF territory and which simply has far too many commitments financially. The Irish state is overcommitted in fiscal terms.

    • Harper66

      Deco,
      I think the term left and right is defunct and has been so for atleast a decade. Neoliberalism has created the bastard son of capitalism and socialism.
      Look at the so called left policies –
      free houses? yep no problem lets rent them from our FF buddies in every town and city in the country and give them to the poor who in return will be so grateful they will vote us back in.
      Free education? yep no problem but lets rent the schools at crazy prices from private indiviuals and pay our FF buddies to set up “training” companys and then sublet them the hours from Fas.
      Free Health care. Yep a constant supply of patients for our hospitals and GPs, and no one queries the relevance or necessitity of any proceedure offered.

      Every single so called leftist policy is in fact a way of taking public money and putting it into private pockets. FF are no where near the left they are in fact busy making a generation of consumers who are apolitical as long as the few pennies they are given in benefits are maintained.

      By the way a thousand thank yous to David for writing this article, I am amazed how quickly comments were posted up “pooh -Poohing” his ideas. Whats that they say “Every truth passes through three stages before it is recognized In the first it is ridiculed, in the second it is opposed, in the third it is regarded as self-evident”

      • Deco

        Harper.
        You are correct concerning NeoLiberalism. We now have Marxism for the rich and well connected. Anglo, RBoS, etc… AIB are probably next.

        We will see it’s first cousin, Expansionist Monetarism run riot via money printing so as to drive up the asset valuations of the rich, helping them sort out their finances, while diminishing those that work for money.

        FF are a left wing party. Bertie Ahern is a socialist. For every issue that was brought to his attention, he responded with a paternalistic state program. He never demured. He never said, ‘that is not the responsibility of government’. He made sure union bosses got NED’ships. Social spending rocketted under his rule. And just like Gordon Brown, he loves hanging around with millionaires.

        And yes, every leftist policy in Ireland takes money from public funds and gives it to some vested interest. This is because of the power of insiders. Look at the professions. This is achieved by market rigging. The predominant business model in this country has become market rigging, with the taxpayer picking up the bill. Working people get done over again and again. Just look at the cost of living in this country. And ICTU’s position on the cost of living seems to be that it should not be reduced. I am thinking of the number of times ICTU has attacked “deflationary policies”.

        I am trying to provide constructive accurate criticism. “Poo-Poohing” as you say, is deplorable. It goes on a lot in the media. Behind it, we usually have some price fixing, power games, backscratching, or money for nothing scheming….

        • Deco

          By the way, it is also fair to say that as a socialist, Ahern was spectacularly useless in terms of the results of social policy achieving anything…..

          • Gege Le Beau

            @Deco, I am not sure if you mean what you say or if you are being satirical?

            Harper66 makes the very preceptive point, that money was thrown around with the view of rewarding them for their support or buying off the electorate, it was the economy bent to the will of the politicial system not the political system managing the economy to benefit society.

            Harper66 states: “free houses? yep no problem lets rent them from our FF buddies in every town and city in the country and give them to the poor who in return will be so grateful they will vote us back in.”

            When I read that, I thought how true is this! Bang on the money from what I see in the trenches.

          • Deco

            I am a bit of both. (I love making swipes at the bollox who did more than anybody else to create this mess).

            He was a socialist. A very incompetent one. But he unleashed a state program for every issue that was brought to his door.

          • Gege Le Beau

            Ahern was no socialist, he was trying to be all things to all people and ended as people like that do with nothing but an appalling legacy of an over heated economy that went off the rails.

            Let him write his ‘big match’ articles so that so that the only harm done is to those with literary sensitivities.

          • Harper66

            Hi Deco,
            Just as an aside I don’t think McCreevy should be used as an example of how politicians should behave. What about the equestrian centre in Punchestown, I think it is an example of what you rail against – cronyism. 100% state funding for a private enterprise. Socialism for the rich and capitalism for the rest.

            http://archives.tcm.ie/businesspost/2003/11/23/story850229515.asp

            I understand your reasons for saying FF enacted socialist policies; however I still disagree even if it is on a technical point.

            It’s a question of “smokes and daggers”. I think it comes down to the intention of an action. I believe the intention of FF policies was and is to take care of their own. Vested interests, insiders call them what you will. Public money into private pockets. The easiest way to do this was to adopt policies that had a thin veneer of socialism attached to them (see my earlier comment about HSE renting houses, Dept of Education renting properties for schools etc)

            I am not a socialist but I work with people from disadvantaged areas and it makes me angry to see how the FF so called “socialist” schemes (which are really just adopted from new labour in Britain) are creating poverty traps. Theses housing estate poverty traps are vulnerable to spending cuts and when this happens (and it will happen there is no one like the Irish to turn on their own) they will become slums and they will be cast aside. A frightening thought regardless of political persuasion.

            To be fair calling FF socialist is the same as saying it is capitalism that has gotten us into this mess. The version of capitalism we have in the western world bears no resemblance to ideology of capitalism. Just as FF socialism bears no resemblance to the ideology of socialism.

            The terms are defunct. I have some close friends who are very socialist in their outlook. Fair play to them they are very well intentioned however they just can’t see that the version of socialism we have is bastardised. It is just as effective at maintaining the status quo – public money into private pockets.

            The world has changed radically since the inception of socialism and capitalism. The insiders have outfoxed both ideologies.

    • liam

      Deco, surely you jest? Centre-left? This is the most right wing country I have ever lived in, we have no concept of left and right here, and have never had a national vision that paid anything other than lip service to the concept of social equality or even equality of opportunity.

      Its also my experience that this is a country where the state has traditionally done so little for the benefit of the many, that Irish people by default adopt a survivalist, every man for himself attitude (though we sometimes like to dress it up as “individual responsibility”). It is, I accept, just my experience/opinion but this appears to happen in far greater abundance than many developed western countries I have visited or lived in, if the posts here and elsewhere are anything to go by.

      • Tim Johnston

        “we have no concept of left and right here”
        +1 to that.
        We seem to have a lot of middle, though..

      • Deco

        Liam – if you look at the level of authority and state institutionalism in this country, and the way that markets are rigged, it would not be possible to describe it as free market. Free market in residential property, the biggest expense in your life ? Eh no, not with auctioneers, bankers and developers rigging supply.

        Maybe we are neither a social democracy nor a free market economy….a kind of a muddle model of economy.

        And yes, FF are a centre left party. They promise a little bit of everything to everybody. Of course it is possible to have a more competent centre-left party, but I don’t see any – we are stuck with dumb and dumber type options….

        • Gege Le Beau

          Politically, you could not be more wrong Deco and do a terrible disservice to the ‘center left’.

        • liam

          Deco,

          All you say is true, however I think like most Irish people you would benefit from revising your understanding of the traditional left-right paradigm. Market rigging and a tendency towards authoritarianism are key indicators of economic conservatism and the political right, respectively.

          Actually, though political parties in Ireland are practically all centre right in terms of behaviour, the truth is that we have no ideologies in this country, that much is clear. What we have instead is a bunch of monkeys who identify schemes that best get the desired objective, generally a big wedge of public money transfered to some vested interest, and the justify it after the fact by claiming that we are following international international best practise (hence Harney’s Boston-Berlin absurdity).

          So we have the HSE, the ridiculous M50 build and all the other PPP nonsense, and the “Swedish solution” to the banking crisis. What we have in fact is a podge podge of the worst aspects of centre left and centre right thinking applied blindly by fools.

          To say that this is leftist in any way shape or form is an insult to both the left and the right. If there even was a left right divide here at least a debate would be possible. Instead what we have is plain old-fashioned tyranny.

          • liam

            One more thing: Capitalism is not under any circumstances to me mistaken for an ideology.

          • Tim Johnston

            “Market rigging and a tendency towards authoritarianism are key indicators of economic conservatism and the political right, respectively. ”

            Eh? authoritarianism exists as a tendency on both ends of the “spectrum”, although only the Left thinks giving more power to government is a good thing. And as for market rigging..?
            Having said that I completely agree with what you say about the hodge podge of ideas we have in Ireland, best described as crony capitalism, although in reality it’s a collection of interest groups that will make any ideological noises to keep their hold on the reigns of power.

          • juniorjb

            “Only the Left thinks giving more power to government is a good thing”. Oh come on Tim, that’s not reasonable. There are plenty of conservatives whose politics have included extending the powers of the state, most recently the neo-conservatives in the US, just not for the same stated purposes as those on the left.

          • liam

            Tim,

            Thank you for the feedback. I’m not talking about extremes on either end of the spectrum, I am talking about the behaviour of the Irish political class. Politically right-wing Governments are characterised by a tendency towards political authoritarianism. The Irish state rejects criticisim out of hand, we have no free press in this country and the State has indicated over the last three years that it will do what it damn well likes. How much more authoritarian do you want than that? This has nothing to do with “giving power to the State”, by which I assume you refer to the idea of state regulation of (or interference in) markets. The idea of market regulation of any kind is regarded as far too leftist for most in this country, and lack of regulation of the banks in particular is what got us here.

            Economically, Irish politicians are devoid of imagination and paralyzed by the fear of trying something new, every move so far has been an attempt to cover up the mess and maintain the status quo. Economically, this country is extremely conservative, and the market rigging by the state both during the boom and with NAMA reflect this.

            We don’t have crony capitalism in this country, just cronyism. Whats going on here has nothing to do with capitalism.

            To try to characterise FF,FG or any of the rest of them as leftist is absurd. We have only ever tollerated one way of doing things in this country.

          • Tim Johnston

            I see what you mean, Liam. We have ruling parties who briefly found laissez-faire ideas trendy and I suppose you could characterise them as centre right, although they used every opportunity to expand the state during the boom rather than trim it down, which is anathema to a lot of right-wingers. (although not all)
            I think NAMA proves that the ruling class only ever saw laissez faire as a means to enrich themselves, and when it ceased to, were quick to revert to type.

          • liam

            Hi Tim,

            Depends what you are measuring. In terms of Govt spending as a proportion of GDP, GWB massively expanded the state during his reign (as did Regan in fact) and I don’t see his period in office nor his party going down in history as anything other than right wing. (of course the money went to General Dynamics, Boeing and Lockheed, rather than on schools and hospitals)

            I think you’ve nailed it with the ‘trendy ideas’ comment, sounds like thats exactly what happened.

  6. Deco

    The real divide in Irish society is between those who are connected/able to stick their snouts in the trough – and between those who are not. Opportunities are restricted.

    And anybody who is an outsider, and who allowed the media coverage of the last fifteen years to cause you to forget this very simple and undeniable fact concerning the Irish and the Irish economy, is screwed.

    It pays to be extremely sceptical of authority in this country. Otherwise, you are a lemming, ready to be led into disaster. The greatest danger to the insiders, is that outsiders might figure that the game is rigged, that markets are controlled, that information is restricted.

  7. davidkelly

    David, nice article, but it only touches the tip of what I am personally experiencing when talking to friends and colleagues.

    I am part of what is euphemistically referred to as the “working poor”, with three children and a mortgage and am totally familiar with the dread of running out of money before the end of the week;

    Life for me and many others is about making triage-like decisions as to which bill to postpone, which creditor is slower to react, how to play the bureaucracy so that you use the system of credit management to stave off the inevitable court actions and I also have to deal with the daily rancorous and demanding letters that would put a faint-hearted person into their grave, such is the tone and threat.

    I think (hope) that people will crack soon, in my social bracket, everyone is simply trying to survive, planning for the future is simply not possible, and as a creative and pretty innovative bunch, myself and my friends are absolutely boiling at the lack of vision or leadership in this country and appalled at the lack of credible alternatives.

    I’m sorry if it’s offensive to any of your readers, but macro-economic theory is largely irrelevant to us, we’re interested in creative guts, invention and vision, we want to see the government take leadership and commission large job-creating, infrastructural projects such as national fiber broadband, rail networks, the development of Shannon as a European hub with high speed rail links along with implementation of Dr O’Donnell’s ideas regarding wind energy and so forth.

    I interact regularly with people of my fathers generation – the 60 to 70 age group, and they are apoplectic, to the point where I avoid discussing economic issues for fear they may have a heart attack – really!

    So to your question – how long before the people crack, I would say the cracks have appeared but our highly evolved sense of self preservation and ability to endure stops us from rioting, however it really is only going to take an Irish “straw” to break the camels back.

    • crossroads

      Well put DavidKelly

      “absolutely boiling at the lack of vision or leadership in this country and appalled at the lack of credible alternatives,” describes me and many I know.

      And I despair at ever seeing people in power with, “creative guts, invention and vision.”

      Current Government policy is an extension of the policies that prevailed in the boom which see the Market as the God to be appeased and the people as nothing more than consumer and worker grist-to-the-mill.

      Anti-family policies such as tax-idividualisation saw stay-at-home parents as non-participating workers rather than the centre of stable family-units as the building blocks of a caring and balanced society.

      Now people who are desperately saving and rationalising their debts are seen as non-consumers who must be encouraged to spend or tax-payers to be raped and sacrificed rather than as citizens in trouble.

      Government policies over the past two years have been nothing more than day-by-day, week-by-week reactions to the Market Gods.

      We couldn’t get national fibre broadband etc during the good times so I don’t think we’re going to see it anytime soon. The government chose to sell our national telecoms infrasructure in the early days of the internet-age so that it could be raped by successive market owners rather than investing in the creation of the world-class network required by all elements of society for success in the connected age.

      Now we have talks about selling the ESB power generation and distribution assets at the start of a new-era where energy is the most precious resource.

      There was no vision during the good times and there is no vision now. Just a pile of unimplemented expensive consultant reports and policy documents to be pulled out whenever such complaints arise.

      In the meantime the government turns to Mr. Market each day and asks, “What next Boss?”

    • BrianC

      No you are not offensive. The system is broken and they cannot fix it. The prime reason they cannot fix it is because they do not understand it. They spent two years procrastinating in a state of deep freeze unable to comprehend the reality of economics and their wanton behaviour. There will be no new thinking until the present populace of the Dail is dispensed with and dethroned stopping the inheritance of power.

      We need new leaders. Perhaps it is time for bb (you will have to decipher that yourself); always a last resort when those charged with serving the public ignore and stop listening to the people. It is a pity DMCW and those like him with a good skill set expecially public speaking do not step up to the mantle. The dross that the present economic mind set come out with is intellectually barren and sadly we especially those of us on the social welfare treadmil must bear.

      To those who are in the public service on very low wages please bear with us. This is not about you as your are us who are the new social poor. Your support is vital if there is any change to take place. Please do not think that people on this forum are making comments about you your work etc we know you are not earning massive salaries and that which you earn is unjustly low, it is a shame on our society that permits such behaviour.

      David if the bills get out of hand remember this make a payment even 1cent as by law you have attempted to pay off the bill. Keep going and it will turn. I too am one of the great unwashed.

      If of any interest you can alway look up Damon Vrabel ‘Debunking Money’ on Youtube or his web site http://www.csper.org

  8. Deco

    The past decade was dominated by IBEC, with ICTU as second fiddle.

    The coming decade will be dominated by ICTU, with IBEC as second fiddle.

    A case of that oxymoron term ‘much the same difference’.

    Ireland will become another Scotland. Bankrupt, proud, clueless, dependent on money from outside, unprincipled, and making the odd effort to be significant. And no country for young people who want to make a go of things. With the resources controlled by a small group of business men, and a noisy bunch of trade unionist careerists and aligned politicians exploiting the opportunity for all it’s worth.

    To end the misery, we need to make opportunities for people. Instead we are moving towards a more wagon circling exercises, and protection of the insiders. The young people have realised that the opportunities are not going to come. They are getting on theit feet, and leaving…

    • Harper66

      Deco,
      I really cant see how you think ICTU and IBEC are anything other than puppets for the political elite.

      In my opinion, ICTU has toed the FF party line since the first of the training grants from FAS worked their way into Siptu accounts.

      Look at the impotent march two years ago led by ICTU.
      My lasting memory of that march was the comment “please place your placards in the skips provided to facilitate an orderly clean of the area”
      A pressure release valve nothing else.Have a march,listen to some rousing retoric and then bugger off home and behave.

      I read your comments with great interest after each article is posted but I just cant see how ICTU and IBEC can be considered anything other than mouthpieces for the government.

      “With the resources controlled by a small group of business men, and a noisy bunch of trade unionist careerists and aligned politicians exploiting the opportunity for all it’s worth” +1

      • Deco

        Well, I would put it this way. The government are spoofers whose main preoccupation is their PR profile, and doing favours for their pals. They are too pre-occuppied with nonsense to be directing IBEC or ICTU. They are too incompetent, too stupid and too busy to be able to control ICTU, and IBEC.

        • Harper66

          Interesting. You are really damming in your description of the government. I have to be honest I never considered them in the terms you describe them here.Food for thought.

          I always saw it the other way around I saw IBEC and ICTU as weak people willing to say and do anything as long as they got a slice of the action.

          I don’t think it a highly organised affair between government and IBEC ICTU but I think Berties genius (two words not often seen together) was his ability to create systems where it was in people’s interest to compromise themselves to maintain the status quo.

    • ict

      Scotland has a functioning, universally accessible, public health service. Having had the experience some time ago of living there for a couple of years, and sending my children to schools there, I have to say that they also have a primary school education system far superior to ours. They also share their currency with the other jurisdiction on their island (rather than with Greece or French Polynesia, as we do).
      OK, they suffer from Belfast style sectarianism and as for the political system, the labour party has such a stranglehold on Glasgow that it is akin to a Soviet style one party state. Nevertheless I still think they are better off, and have a better outlook than we have just now.

  9. Deco

    I am realising that the ICTU are in control of the dialog about this crisis now. As much in control of it, as IBEC were in the Binge era. This is a remarkable acheivement. It bodes badly for our intellectual capacity to get out of this mess.

  10. Deco

    Here is commentary by Nadeem Wayalat concerning the recent UK budget, and efforts by the ConDem Coalition to fix the bankrupt condition of British state finances, as a result of the RBoS bailout and an election budget.

    http://www.marketoracle.co.uk/Article23744.html

    Now, this matters because it has implications on the value of sterling and also on this mantra of export led growth. Wayalat argues that the ConDems are not fixing anything, and that British borrowing is still out of control.

    • Deco

      Wayalat is in favour of privatization of parts oth NHS in Britain. Theoretically this can sound great. In practice, it always amounts to somebody getting the inside line and earning extortionist profits. But the main point of concern is that Britain has to print currency to get out of this mess, and despite the noises to the contrary, the ConDem coalition are doing exactly this.

  11. adamabyss

    subscribe.

  12. PIMCO’s Mohamed El-Erian has been remarkably specific in his assertion of Greek default.
    Speaking at The Economist’s Buttonwood conference, El-Erian declared Greece destined for default in 3 years time.
    El-Erian sees no way Greece can deliver on its 11% fiscal adjustment as it has never happened before.

    http://www.businessinsider.com/pimcos-el-erian-says-greece-will-default-in-3-years-2010-10

    Recommends an an orderly default …

  13. “Most political societies are divided along lines that are broadly left and right”

    There’s a notable exception to this, the USA. Both the Democrats and Republicans are right wing for the most part.

    I agree with Deco that FF is not right wing. They’ve pandered to the unions every bit as much as the Labour Party would have done.

    The Croke Park agreement was a disaster. A billion needs to be taken out of health and not a penny can be taken out of the 70% that it’s costing in wages.

    904 a week on average for a civil servant is absurd. The wealth of any country comes down to what it produces. Civil servants don’t produce any tangible wealth.

    • juniorjb

      You also need to bear in mind that a substantial portion of the lower grades of the civil service are earning a good deal less than that average 904, so many in the higher grades are earning quite a bit more. It would be interesting and helpful to see this issue framed in terms of such more specific breakdowns. I think the issue of public sector pay is at present acting as a pressure valve for the anger that should be directed elsewhere. Those using this strategy tend to focus only on blanket figures that support that line of reasoning, e.g. average earnings, higher salaries and overall wage costs. On the other hand, there are those in the public sector who avoid drawing attention to the extremely good wages and conditions of the higher grades in some services in particular. I know a number of those in the service who are very well paid (far in excess of 904 per week) yet politically they are much more comfortable lumping themselves into the same category as even the most poorly paid public servant and continuing a long running fantasy that they are not in fact especially well rewarded. I don’t think it serves the public at large to reproduce the debate in the rhetorical forms used by either side, neither of whom are interested in exploring the real facts impartially. Claiming that civil servants don`t contribute to the economy can only work if you use a very narrow definition of production, but in any case it seems to me that such arguments only serve the interests of those who would prefer to hijack the issue for tactical political reasons.
      It is also arguable that FF is a right wing party in many respects but it has always had a populist approach too, effectively using the welfare state as a tool of clientelist politics.

      • Deco

        If there are disparities in the public sector with regard to the payroll, then there needs to be reform of the public sector.

        The state hierarchy needs to be cleaned up….a whistleblower’s charter would go a long way in this regard…

        • juniorjb

          There are certainly plenty who could afford to take a big cut but they will fight it every inch of the way. It will probably be a suicide mission for any party with the stomach for it, but then, it may be the most honourable course of action. Two birds with one stone? Ah, you can only dream…

          I don’t think it is just an issue of corruption: there is nothing illegal about disbursing benefits and tax breaks with an eye on votes or cultivating local support. The system, as it stands, in its normal functioning, does this.

        • Deco

          I was told a story about a public sector employee specialist from NI who was invited to a conference in Dublin, organized by his peers here. It was a junket of sorts.

          He totalled up his bills, and came to a figure of 400 Euro. He submitted it to the boyos here. And they were irate. They told him to redo his bill, so that it came above 1000 Euro. So he stayed in the hotel an additional night, and doctored the bill until they were happy with it.

          Basically, if he submitted a bill of 400 Euro, that would stick out like a sore thumb, and would result in questions being asked as to why these technical specilists, and managerial types on public pay down here were charging a grand a day, for other junkets.

          Now, that is corruption. The expenses regime is being fiddled continually by those who are well connected enough to get away with it.

          • juniorjb

            Sadly, I have heard similar stories from people in a position to know (themselves appalled by their colleagues behaviour) – the culture of greed and privilege has not been the exclusive preserve of bankers etc. That mentality is going to have to be dealt with but I fear there will be wagon-circling and massacres rather than the precision surgery required.

          • Deco

            We have legislation which charges 1000 euro if you want to see what is going inside public bodies. Senator Shane Ross, had to pay up despite being elected to the Oireachtas. And he discovered nail bar bills and Rody Molloy’s credit card bill.

            1) scrap the legislation concerning the 1000 euro charge. Instead just have no legislation. The citizen can open any set of books on public bodies should he wish.

            2) Whistleblower’s charter to protect anybody who spills the beans.

    • Tim Johnston

      “Both the Democrats and Republicans are right wing for the most part.”
      No, I think the original statement still holds. Different societies just have the centre in a different place, that’s all. There’s always left and right, people who want things to move and people who want things to stay the same. And nobody agrees on which way to move!

  14. irishminx

    A compassionate article, well done David. Though, as a public servant, I earn €1,568 per month, that is €392 per week and I’m 18 years in my job! I never believed the Celtic tiger was real, real touches everyone. The Celtic tiger illusion touched the wealthy in our country. I have a huge challenge paying for NAMA, when it is the rich bailing themselves out. Most people on social welfare earn as much as I do per week, what with their dole, rent/mortgage supplement and a medical card. I believe we need a fair, just and equal pain body for all, including the Government & wealthy in this country! I need them to bear the pain too and they are not!!

  15. crossroads

    If there aren’t protests at the coming budget, then there never will be.

    Everyone has lots they are unhappy with in this country but where is the rallying point for protest; the gameplan, vision, leader or group that people can put their weight behind.

    I have never been particularly political although I watched incredulous and with a sense of foreboding (stimulated by DMcW’s articles) as the policies of tax-individualisation and property incentives pushed the Irish population into a situation where two-incomes are required just to get by.

    Now I’m bursting to get involved yet still feel like a spectator.

    It seems this government can’t even be forced to run bye-elections, never mind a general election.

    While venting anger in street protest has an appeal I would prefer to put my energy behind a plan or vision, because after, “Not this, not this!,” comes the question, “If not this, then what?”

    Does this country require revolution in order to put the needs of the population at the centre of government or can the required changes be effected through the current political system?

    Maybe you do need to raze it all to the ground and rebuild from scratch in a painful but quick fresh start.

    I know I’m not alone.

    Just waiting for the bugle call.

    • hobob

      can’t agree more crossroads .. the real question needs to be: “if not this, then what?” .. but maybe we’ve got to go through the venting to get to that point .. we’re living in a failed political state .. all the main political parties have failed the people, the unions have failed their members .. we’re essentially in a political vacuum (a potentially very dangerous creature!) where the people despise the government and have no faith in the opposition .. elections involving the current political characters will not rectify this. So I think, let’s vent and while we vent, we, the ordinary people, must focus on where to take this .. if we don’t, whatever remains of the country will be usurped again by self-interested groups (you can be sure that international investors are already eyeing up what assets they will be able to buy up for next-to-nothing to sell back to us again in slightly better days) .. i think a massive venting is required. Let the people show the markets that the people are serious and won’t take this lying down – and the government irrelevant. It’s up to us the people to do this for ourselves – we have no leadership – and when we do it, let us not allow the politicians/union leaders to take the credit – let us push them aside – useless goverment, useless opposition, useless status quo – we can do better ourselves.

  16. [...] How long before the people crack? | David McWilliams. This entry was posted in Irish politics. Bookmark the permalink. ← A Dream for Ireland [...]

  17. MadaboutEire

    Ireland is one of the most right wing countries on the planet, anyone who thinks it is remotely to the left needs to think again what ‘left’ consitutes. Public-Private partnership was cosy capitalism, and we see clearly the results of the failure of people to do any homework on the regulator and the financial services sector who were granted carte blanche.

    The two main political parties are trying to practically outdo one another on the level of cuts required (the so called ‘front loading’ brigade, very brave soldiers of destiny with their massive salaries, pensions, expenses and ‘entitlements’).

    I think the notion of Civil War politics has passed its sell-by-date and is only used by elites to give some meaning or differentiation between political parties where there is none.

    I also don’t know many public servants making €904 per week, I know of a few at the top, the so called layers of management, but there are reasons why those people are never tackled, the 18% have to come from somewhere.

    Make the working poor, the unemployed, the disabled pay, keep the rabble in line.

    I would also ask, where is old the money? Where is all the money that was spent by government (€13 billion overspend on the roads) and all the revenue that was generated?

    Any investigations into capital flight, off shore accounts?

    There are insiders and outsiders, but socio-economic ideology plays an important role and should not be ignored or sidelined.

  18. SLICKMICK

    Scotland is in a far healthier position than Ireland, more people on the dole in Irl , than in Scotland, Wales and NI combined!.There are more people out of work in the 26 counties than in Greater London, which has twice our population.Unionists would be insane to join a united Ireland, the equivalent of accepting a blood transfusion from a person with full blown AIDS .

    • Deco

      The demographics of Scotland are very different to Ireland. The age profile is much older. There are less young people, much less immigration and much more retirees. Scotland is a country that younge educated people leave, and get a job somewhere else. Three years ago I was told that the two largest outside groups working in the City of London were Scots and French people. UK dole is way below Irish dole. Nobody wants to be on the dole in the UK. I mean if the dole in Ireland was as low as in Scotland, people would do whatever jobs they could – despite the lower minimum wage in the UK.

      Despite the state of the UK economy, and the debt levels, private sector employment is still holding up reasonably well. The UK has the pressure valve of devaluing sterling. This might not last as a credible option. And the UK coalition are playing bluff and will get sussed.

      Though, even Scotland is better able to handle hydrocarbbon deals than the muppets in charge here.

  19. SpinstaSista

    Why do all civil/public servants get tarred with the same brush? The reality is that higher paid civil servants are VERY well paid BUT lower paid civil servants get less than half of the €904 average which is bandied about. Promotion prospects are few and far between in the public service, during the boom there were no bonuses or any of the other perks that the public sector enjoyed. Public servants were sneered at during the boom for staying in their “little” jobs, now they’re vilified because their jobs are relatively secure. Those who do get promoted tohigher levels in the public service are often politically well-connected.

    In universities the contrast between the highest earners (around €145,000pa for a professor, similar to the salary of trade union bosses) and the lowest (about €20,000pa for someone starting in the library) is stark. I’m sure this trend is reflected in all areas of public service.

    The reality is that lower paid civil servants have always been part of the “working poor” even during the Celtic Tiger years. However, such people may be in a more fortunate position than many others purely because they couldn’t afford to buy even a dog box during the boom. Despite their perceived privilege these days, many lower paid civil servants STILL can’t get a mortgage.

    I agree that everyone in the country is under pressure, but I would urge the media and others not to turn on public servants – a surprising number of them are struggling like most people in Ireland today.

    • juniorjb

      Agreed and see my reply to caligula above. It is also the case though that I have heard public servants on 80k+ a year use the line that they were relatively disadvantaged during the boom compared to the private sector. Given their working conditions this was always nonsense. It’s not just those attacking the public sector that use the same wide brush. The whole thing is becoming an exercise in obfuscation and diversion.

    • MadaboutEire

      @ SpinstaSista – could not agree more, very well put together comment, nuance unfortunately is not a strong factor in the media or among paid commentators generally.

  20. Tull McAdoo

    “You can call it a party whip or whatever — but I’d be calling it democracy at its best.” Say’s Bobby Alyward, Fianna Fail TD.
    Bobby was speaking after the committee of which he was a member had slammed the door in the face of our ombudsman Emily O’Reilly when she had raised certain concerns about a scheme Frank “forty gaffs” Fahey had launched below in Galway. Frank you might recall had found himself “lost at sea” and in need of the party whip. The big difference from this story and the one in David’s article is that David’s friend was running out of money by Thursday, where as Frank “forty gaffs” was just running out of excuses……….. bah humbug…………

    http://examiner.ie/opinion/editorial/lost-at-sea-scheme–vote-leaves-a-bad-taste-133520.html

  21. petercice

    to give you some of my current back ground i am currently on the sick at the moment and have been told because it now looks like a disability that i have that it will take up to six months to sort out what i am entitled to.
    i have two young kids and my wife works part time in a shop i get 190 euro per week plus her wage to look after us the kids pay the bills ect.
    this next budget will kill any breathing space that we currently have to survive we are currently paying reduced mortgage payments and i have to say the girl we are dealing with in our local bank has been great she was telling me that her and the husband are in a very similar position as ourselves as her husband was self employed and hasnt had any work in nearly 2 years.
    it is only when you get talking to people that you realise how bad the situation is in this country and how far we have fallen from our so called world class economy.
    recently i was speaking to a parent of one of the kids in my sons class who works with the local council and he was telling me that he saw water cannons in the council yard when he asked were they came from he was told that the government had baught them in from the north.
    so you can take it that this government and by extension the politicians in this country already know that they are coming to the tipping point of what can only be described as the rape of the lower paid and unemployed in the country to look after the rich and there gang.
    maybe we do need this point to come in the country when we finally take to the streets and regain our own collective irishness that has been lost over the last number of years.
    people say that we should not be on the streets causing trouble as it will look bad in the international world but lets be real in my opinion if we go along with this current situation we cannot and will not change the political and wealth class in this country and the ones that have made huge wealth through the tiger are still the ones making it now whilst every other normal working person has a foot placed on there head and pushed further into the abiss and told that they should be good guys accept it and not make any complaints or trouble as we will look bad..
    end of rant

    • Puschkin the Black and White Cat

      Peter, what you have written is not a rant. It is truth. The “media”, RTE and the so called “news” papers have isolated people. There is no personal value without consumption and no consumption without money. RTE feeds us on new house, new kitchen, new decorated apartment shows one after another, the papers still show supplements with “great value at 250,000” properties.
      The people who cannot play and don’t want to play are non persons, the forgotten. The big fear now is all these non-persons getting together, but I guess it would take 2 missed dinners per week to stimulate the sheeple to rise. So I guess we’ll not have any real reaction to this hidden and secret crisis.

      • Deco

        +1
        “The manufacturing of consent”

      • MadaboutEire

        @ Puschkin the Black and White Cat – spot on.

        The ‘wretched of the earth’ as Fanon once wrote, the invisible, the superfluous, the non-people.

        Well, they may yet make themselves heard and will be suitably condemned by the media for doing so. True change rarely if ever comes from the top, it comes from the streets.

    • BrianC

      I don’t think it is a rant to express how you feel your circumstances and what you learn of others by speaking with them. You are just mirror of what the reality is for some 50% and most likely more of Ireland.

      David asked how long before the people crack. I think they have but they just do not know it and all will take is the first initiative before all hell breaks loose.

      Nice to know they are preparing the water cannon. A VERY stupid idea given our heritage and political past. Evidently they do not watch the news and the fact that a handful of zealots can quell the might of the Western military might in the Middle East. Can they really be that stupid. I hope not becasue I for one will not be getting wet when I demonstrate (peacefully). Boy they are really stupid especially with what is transpiring in the North which has really nothing to do with ‘Nationalism’ and more to do with disenfranchisment the ultimate fuel of discontent and once ignited is very contagious.

      The Irish Govt had better wise up before the mob assembles and perhaps to focus their mind they ought to get in contact with the RTE and look at the footage in the archives regards the destruction of the British Embassy.

      I wonder how long it would take to radicalise David’s frient. Probably no need as he is most likely already there and the only thing prohibiting action is lack of means.

      Bring on the water cannon and lets dance. And it will be one hell of a dance as this is the most unpopular government that Ireland has ever had.

  22. ObsessiveMathsFreak

    Using the same percentage across the board is quite obviously inequitable, be it in cuts or taxes or indeed salary increases. It’s obvious that the wealthier someone is, the more of that percentage is essentially waste on their savings, luxury goods, or holidays, and so on. The percentage to the lower earner meanwhile concerns far more basic purchases and will all be spent (or not if it is taken away).

    Interestingly, even the US was once aware of the basic fact that the richer can and should shoulder a heavier burden. They once has far more tax bands, with up to 90% income tax for higher earners. Interestingly, these policies coincided with their period of economic ascendancy. They managed their economy so that wealth did not fall into the black hole of the undeserved upper class bonuses.

    We need such a regime in this country. The Generation That Wrecked the Country, the unmortgaged ~60 year olds approaching retirement, have amassed the wealth of two generations and have bankrupted the rest, yet expect their handsome salaries and pensions to still be paid.

    I think it’s entirely reasonable for the state to finally require this property-mad rump to pay for their excesses, and higher graded tax bands and asset taxes are the way to do it. If nothing else, it will make swallowing the cuts more bearable for the rest of the country.

  23. Poverty and….CRACKS….

    Best viewed fullscreen, 1200 pixel high

    http://dl.dropbox.com/u/4914840/cracks.jpg

    The above picture is a walk by shot that I took on a ‘reconn-mission’ visiting a tiny Irish Island called Gola in Donegal. Geomorphology is not my field of expertise, but I am fascinated by certain rock textures and structures all my life.

    Cracks appear over time. Some countries experience explosive breakdowns of social cohesion, others a social implosion, the latter is trued for ireland at the moment from a sociology point of view, however, a mix of both is more likely to happen once the dynamic has reached critical mass.

    The totalitarian bureaucracy that is executed now in a more stringent form since Lisbon 2.0 is showing it’s ugly face, however, cracks appeared since a long time in this structure as well. While they were ignored, or hidden from the public, they continue to widen and some of them no longer can be ignored or camouflaged.

    Some of these cracks are systemic, others are surface cracks. Under certain conditions, surface cracks can turn into structural cracks as well, weakening and threatening stability of the whole structure.

    As David said, ‘your guess is as good as mine’, there is simply not enough data available for individuals to come to informed decisions. Certain government institutions are a entirely different story of course.

    The Official Journal of the European Union, had a very important entry on 25th November 2004, a landmark entry that changed a lot and was a starting point for further developments here:

    http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/site/en/oj/2004/l_349/l_34920041125en00010011.pdf

    It was the birthday of a organisation that was conveniently called FRONTEX and was ammended later here

    http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2007:199:0030:0039:EN:PDF

    http://www.frontex.europa.eu/

    As you can read now on their website, and in FT today, Frontex deploys RABIT’s, Rapid Border Intervention Teams to Greece.

    See what I mean? All these events are more than only surface cracks, and that there is a serious flood of refugees that has not even started to move yet, well, it is known since a long time, and could be observed in small harbor towns in Italy as well. – I wrote about it here on David’s site as well. -

    The European Council on Refugees and Exiles stated: We share the view that the Agency’s mandated powers are expanding fast and consider that this is happening without due attention to the establishment and/or clarification of the Agency’s role and responsibilities in relation to human rights.

    David’s article is a good example on cracks that threaten social cohesion. Policy makers in Brussels are well aware about these trends, and they will react by force to protect their interests, I should better say the interests of the Lobbies that keeps the bureaucrats in their ridiculously high paid seats.

    The danish Jens Peter Bonde who was mentioned by Deco above, I bet 99% of irish people never heard about him, himself a former MEP, exposed the working structures of EU in a concise way since long time.

    The disconnect of politics to the people is severe, and I wish we had a quantitative and qualitative analysis tool that would allow to measure this disconnect, I would expect substantially high readings on the ‘Richter Scale of Social Cohesion’. The higher the readings the lower the social cohesion and the higher discontent and lack of true democracy, above 8.0 total collapse is a possibility.

    Combined readings could easily average somewhere around 6.8 at this stage, and a sense of desperations has entire nations in it’s grip.

    Lisbon 2.0 was a very important event in Irish history, and this nation had been fooled and tricked into agreement, by methods of emotional black mail, lies and scaremongering.

    While Mr Cowen’s legacy as a finance Minister 2004-2008 will go into the history books, it shall not be forgotten how he coerced the Irish nation into Lisbon 2.0, the biggest crime against humanity on his curriculum vitae so far.

    I am not sure whether my information is correct, but what I was told this weekend on the Irish voting system left a few big question marks with me. I was told that NO votes in a general election would be divided and distributed to other parties. So, if 45% of the people do not go to election, their votes will be counted and distributed after a formula to other parties. – May be David or other people around here more familiar with the Irish election system care to clarify this, as i am insecure whether this information is somewhat correct or not. –

    However, if we can not begin to understand this biosphere as our common, and our only way of life, we will fail to survive as a species. – Huh? – I know, pretty dramatic statement, but I see it this way since more than 30 years and the developments of late are confirming my thoughts on these matters.

    x x x x

    I believe that Biosphere consciousness and empathy are deciding key factors for our future development as a global human community, the latter is something which we urgently need to develop and define in our common interest.

    Crisis is always opportunity at the same time, hence reason for hope.

    If we continue to be sucked into the void of national interests, lobby politics and vested interests, we drive a system that goes backwards, inflicting useless pain and suffering on billions of people worldwide.

    The constant effort to sideline the United Nations are driven by the very interests that have no consideration for the greater picture at all.

    If we surrender our future to Institutions such as the IMF we are essentially voting for a totalitarian future that is driven by Insiders, to stick with David’s term, Insiders that have no concern fro the greater good of humanity, but are representatives of small and fatalistic power circles who feel they are entitled to lead the world, people with no mandate, but power!

    Best
    Georg

  24. irishminx

    Here is a blog I’ve just written, if you are interested, you are welcome to view. I believe this is the way to go!

    http://irishminx.blogspot.com/2010/10/live.html

    • BrianC

      I hope David reads and hears your call.

      Being an economic journalist and keeping all informed is truly great especially with such an expert insight. However, perhaps it would be more potent to be actually in the arena to deliver the change we need. I am sure many on this forum would support and help and more of similar mind to David could join and deliver the desired change.

      • irishminx

        BrianC, Thank you for your comments. I wouldn’t have written this, if I wasn’t willing to stand up and be counted. I am willing to do whatever it takes, in a loving, compassionate and kind way to help make a difference in Ireland. On that site, you can email me directly, if you so wish.

  25. the new dark ages

    I am/was self employed, had a good wage and plenty of work (I did not work in construction) I borrowed 20k as business loan of one of our two main banks back in 06, things were grand until late 07, by 08 I could not make repayments as work was sporadic, sometimes no work for 3 to 5 weeks on end, I made the simple choice to pay my mortage and forget about the loan until things improved, I am now beginning to see things are not going to improve. The bank won’t be flexible, I told them what do you want my loan repayment or my mortage? I paid them what I could 60euro here 150 euro there, then I just stopped, they now have me up in court, I’m now some sort of common criminal, for what wanting to work?
    When will I crack, soon.

    • BrianC

      Sorry to hear of your troubles. In a similar boat. Rule one always make a payment even if one cent. Making such a small payment is permissible. It is an attempt to make a payment if they refuse to accept. If taken to court simply stand in front of the judge and firmly state it is all you can afford at present. There is nothing the judge can do but accept your circumstances however they may apply an asset and liability test (means test) to verify. If in a severe state go to the doctor explain the situation and make sure you walk out of there with a note stating severe stress. This is a no.1 killer via heart attacks. No judge in his right mind will pursue as to do so is to invite trouble if you do suffer a heart attack. Don’t forget it is only a bank they can write it off.

    • Deco

      I am sorry for your situation. I don’t know if I can offer advice. You need customers. It is simple as that. And I don’t know how hard it is to get customers in your sector. By the sounds of things, there are no customers.

      Firstly you are not a criminal. In fact you the only opportunity for this country to get out of this hole. It is the stupid system rigged by insiders, cronyists and gombeens that proclaims you to be a criminal.

      Tell them that you want to default on your loan and that you want a NAMA style haircut.

      Examine things from their perspective, and you might see that behind all the tough talking, that their position is not a strong as they want you to think. They will not want your house, because the banks already have houses already in their possession, that they cannot sell. And you can tell them this. If you really want you can get somebody to go to the same bank looking to buy a house off the bank. Just to get how vulnerable they really are.

      In other words if they bulldoze through you and get their way, they might end up losing more money than by being prepared to negotiate.

      It is the threat that they are hoping to handle. And tell them that you are available to discuss matters. This weakens them in the sense that they are being provactive in bring you before the court.

      The bank does not have much room for manoevre either, and this will make them open to negotiation. Let them know that you know their predicament.

  26. Rory

    Average weekly wages in public sector include the pay of the bosses, hence it is higher than the average private sector wage. How much would the average private sector wage come out at if it included directors and owners wages?

    • Deco

      The thing about the private sector is….there are much less management layers, less managers, and a lot of matrix type roles involving multiple tasks.

      In the private sector, it is common to expect the managers to do the same work as subordinates. In the public sector managers get promoted away from work, and into supervisory roles. Leadership is abhorred.

      In the private sector there is often conflict between employees who work hard and those who underperform. Those that work hard usually win. If they don’t win they go outside and tackle from the outside, by starting up on their own, or by working for the competition. They get their revenge. In the public sector, you are stuck effectively with one employer, and that employer does not have competitors. You cannot undermine the hierarchies from outside. (unless you are Willie Walsh).

      People in competitive organizations expect their colleagues to all do their bit. In the public sector this is compromised by the level of political interference in the management hierarchies. Effectively making the public sector less enjoyable for those that give a damn about their job.

      In addition, in the public sector, political interference results in positions being created for relatives, party activists, the well connected etc… this undermines morale, and drives up cost.

      Hence we need reform of the public sector. But not the form that you commonly hear about. No, we need reform of the obvious problem with the public sector. The problems that everybody in this country now knows about. And to get there you need three completely new parties in the Dail.

  27. petercice

    I wonder at times what are we as in our generation going to tell our kids when they are older and our grandkids how we let this happen.
    More worrying when they asked what we did about it i fear that we will tell them that we did nothing and we as a generation stood by and let this happen to this country.
    In my mind if taking to the streets in mass is the begining of a way for the normal ordinary people in this country to force change in the political class and the elite then so be it as i for one want to be able to look in my kids eyes without any regret and to show them that we tried to stop the maddness which is coming.
    We not only need to fight for our very own existance in this country but also for the future rights of the next generations.
    If you look at what is happening in the country at the moment to me it has a direct relationship with the ruling classes of the 1800′s which numbered in few but controled the masses through the ownership of the land and political class.
    If we as Irish people have already forgotten what sacrifices were made on our behalf by the leaders of our new nation in the early years of the last century so that we can enjoy a freedom which they never had then shame on us.
    this government ask for us to be patriotic to the country at this time when at the same time they want to kill what is left of this economy and at the same time protect international banks who make no mistake made bad judgements in lending to our banks.
    We at the moment are no longer a Sovereign nation as we are being told by germany and the EU how to run our country.
    they say that we have no choice but to reduce our budget down to 3% by 2014 ok fine well lets turn around and tell them that we as a nation are no longer be held responsible for the debt that the irish banks have built up by borrowing from there own banks and sit back and watch them all panic.
    there is a much bigger thing at play here rather than the budget the german government know that if the irish defalt on the bank bonds then this will place there financial system under huge pressure and also call into question the entire euro.
    as a country we are not down and out yet unless we allow the current situation to continue and i think it is up to us all to make sure it wont happen.
    how do we do this i personally dont know but it is going to take a massive change in the normal people’s thinking maybe we should refuse to work and sit outside the parlement and force the hand of the state to react to its people.
    i for one will be willing to my part in what ever it takes to change what is happening but we must get collective about our future.we can no longer think of only ourselves and start to focus as a collective nation that is not going to go quitely and lay down the future of the next generations

    • irishminx

      Well said Peter,I concur.

    • crossroads

      Re Petercice:
      “they say that we have no choice but to reduce our budget down to 3% by 2014 ok fine well lets turn around and tell them that we as a nation are no longer be held responsible for the debt that the irish banks have built up by borrowing from there own banks and sit back and watch them all panic.”

      There’s certainly an interesting policy in that. If only the governement could have the balls or the people the power to push it through.

  28. Gege Le Beau

    To answer the question posed by David McWilliams:

    How long? Not long.

    • Dorothy Jones

      @gege
      Please see crossroads post of 1:47pm today with links. It’s a start.

      • Gege Le Beau

        I checked it out Dorothy, well intentioned.

        But think it is going to take more, sometimes maybe things have to crack open fully in order for them to be put back together properly (if possible), we need a societal transformation and a lot of soul searching, this is one crazy system we got.

        I don’t think the situation has reached critical mass yet however, more of a slow burner, lets wait and see etc, more left in it, a change of government naturally would help, they are hanging on like con-artists.

        • Dorothy Jones

          @ Gege
          Fully agree… That’s why I described it as a start. There is a lot more to say on the topic of uprising…. My own feelings: white hot anger. But this person [Pumpkin Protest] started something and for that I will support them for their bravery.
          David’s article is a clarion call which seems to be shared by many of the posters on this site. I have been attempting to raise awareness in my own sphere of influence [small, limited]. When the crirical mass is attained; count me in! Until then my voice is with those who are trying as best as they can. I am disgusted at what I have witnessed over the last ten years.

          • Gege Le Beau

            @ Dorothy – I agree and do not wish to take from their efforts or throw cold water on their enthusiasm, I admire anyone who organises like this against the government.

        • Dorothy Jones

          @Gege
          Good point: Taken. Notwithstsnding, look at the human suffering. I never thought that this 2would occur again in Ireland.

        • Dorothy Jones

          @ Gege
          Thanks for the link, good stuff!

  29. People do crack eventually. The good news is that after you crack there comes a moment of clarity when you see the world for what it really is. When you reach that point nothing can break you because you are afraid of nothing

    Great Article David. Nice to see a change in tone from the article I read in the the other day in the Sindo from a well known celebrity journalist cheerleeding the cuts. It seems that Milton Friedman still has a lot of influence on these shores and that some people are living in some imaginary glorious past. It just goes to show that someone can be highly educated, solvent yet brain damaged

    Did anyone notice the irony of an RTE employee on 400k attempt to convince us of his love for the great James Connolly? Only in Ireland. James Connolly would not be seen dead fratenising with such a hypocrite in a country where poor kids are going to school on empty stomachs

    The current political parties are irrelevant to outsiders and there is no left or right by which to delineate one party from another. Their failed attempt at playing the consensus game was a political lark where points could be scored by shifting the blame onto the next government. They are desperados and none of them has a clue. They have no vision and if any of them did have then they would recognise that the social structure of Ireland is at fault and needs to be rebuilt from the ground up in the name of balance, fairness and inclusiveness

    There is no point in looking at the UK either because what has just occured over there regarding the recent budget is an ideological stroke hence the appalling spectacle of Tory Backbenchers shouting ‘more more …’ while Osbourne was announcing the cuts. Thatcherism Mk 2 will have a devastating effect on British society in the coming years as if the place was not turned into a big enough toilet during the reign of the Iron Lady

    Unfortunately there are many in Ireland who think it is alright to be selfish at the expense of the 450,000 and more who are on the breadline. There are a lot of Tories still in this conservative and very right wing country but my opinion is that Irish people are not in that mould. Most conservatives only think they are conservatives and have no clue what neo-liberalism is about. I once worked with working class people in England who called themselves conservatives yet by Tuesday morning they were already cadging smokes. Hilarious. They knew that Socialism was bad yet none of them knew anything about Socialism – just that it was evil and that it said so in the Sun and the Star.

    There are many posters on here who are living on social welfare and who are gifted, clever and just whiling the days away as the charade is played out daily on RTE and in the Media. This is the real crime. Our ‘advertising sponsors’ as Deco calls them do not want to hear what we have to say and the consensus seems to be that we must all be good boys and girls and not upset ‘the markets’. Well fuck the markets

    Since David wrote about Chile the other week I read Naomi Klein’s book The Shock Doctrine and it gave me hope. Thirty years after the horrors Perpetrated by Pinochet and his puppetmaster Friedman, two former prime ministers of Southern Cone countries have been sent to prison and people all over South America are now voting for and re-electing left wing governments on a Social Democratic ideology. They have dealt a blow to the ideal of a free trade zone from Alaska to Santiago and they have told the IMF, The World Bank and the Corporations to go and screw themselves. The spirit of Che Guevara lives on in their hearts and minds and they are returning to the values that underpinned their societies before the economic experiment carried out by the Chicago Boys and Fascist dictators. The spirit of James Connolly lives on and if Irish people were ever to reclaim their Irishness it be because of James Connolly and people like him and not ‘dragons’. Only then will we be able to feel good again

    No to French/German demands.
    Political reform in Ireland.
    No Anglo Bailout.
    100k Cap on public sector wages.
    New public works schemes and no cheap graduates for gombeen employers
    An Ireland for the many and not just for the chosen few!

    Good Luck to us all.

    • BrianC

      +1

      We need to get active.

      We need to understant that the political incumbent are not up to the task by not alone will but also intellect. The status quo suits their comfortable lives and they know the importance of protecting the higher offices to discharge the lack of will to serve the people.

      Paul you will know this quote

      “Anyone who sees in his own occupation merely a means of earning money degrades it; but he that sees in it a service to mankind ennobles both his labour and himself”

      Things can be changed but for Ireland this may mean internal strife and physical conflict. Iceland managed to do it peacefully. I believe primarily because the population size eased speed of communication galvanising consenus of opinion delivering the will of the people. Unfortunately for Ireland the population is such that it is easy to conquer and divide the disenfranchised further reinforced by vested interests. More importantly those in RTE on exceptionally elevated renumeration packages are not reflecting the true pulse of the public for unconsciously it does not serve them to bite the hand that feeds but they have a few cosmetic valves shows such as Joe Duffy and Frontline which in reality are very tame.

      We do not have to have the will of the ECB imposed on us we can remind them that we have sovereignty and intend exercising it.

      The problem is more the ECB’s than ours based on the simple maxim ‘if you owe the bank a little and cannot repay then you have a problem if you owe the bank a lot and cannot pay then the bank has a problem’. It is actually as simple as that yet economists try to veil and cloak simple facts. A lot of the economic theory you hear is flawed totally flawed. Fractional reserve banking cannot work due to the prerequisite of exponential mechanics. It just does not work. Value can be exchanged without recourse to such flawed economics. And I refer all to Professor Al Bartlett http://www.albartlett.org.

      More importantly lenders are supposed to apply rational criteria to lending otherwise via inept erroneous lending practices the risk of the loan reverts to them and they are solely responsible. Once it was the three c’s character, capacity and collateral. If the lender fails to assess corretly on all these facts and verify then they only have themselves to blame thus are totally responsible for their own actions.

      Once you get these facts into your head then you negotiate on your terms and not theirs. But to do such means you need to be a leader and not a yes man follower. We need new people in the Dail people of intellect with strenght and nerve and will do attitude not can do.

      Ireland is now calling for leaders. All it will take is for one to stand and the rest will follow. We cannot fall we cannot fail we must and will prevail we must have the courage to lead change and show the way to others already. Iceland took a stand and Ireland should follow. Make no mistake the IMF do not want to come in here as they have the Dail already doing their work. It is pathetic that the Minister of Finance of Ireland should go to Rehn in the EU before he meets with his cabinet for their special meeting. It is shameful. We need to tell the EU enough is enough these are the terms and if you do not like the good bye but we will keep your Euro on our terms end of story. I note Snowden is advocating cosying up to the USDollar how pathetic trade one master for another not realising they are the same. This goest to show how little they understand.

      All money is debt and failure to control the issuance of money simply gives extraordinary power to those with the right to issue money and they use this to exercise power at the expense of all. I think Damon Vrabel explains all in his videos ‘Debunking Money’ available on Youtube or http://www.csper.org. I am never really happy discussing the New World Order and that sort of thing as people generally thing you are a crack pot nut. But the reality is such does actually exist yet it is rarely discussed on open public general mass media save radical communication media channels. Everytime I see Peter Sutherland on TV and in the media pontificating he makes me want to vomit and the crap he came out with on Channel 4 news was just sickening.

      We must make a stand.

  30. george

    HOW LONG BEFORE THE PEOPLE CRACK???

    I wasn’t going to vote in the next election whenever it comes, but if reverse benchmarking with other European Countries in our own league for the top Civil Servants, as proposed by Mr.Arthur Morgan TD in last Sunday “the Weeks in Politics” becomes part of Sinn Féin strategy to win it, and to save the Country, they not only will have my vote but I’ll guess the votes of thousands of people who think in the same way, and it’s sick and tired of footing the bill.

    We can save billions through the years if the salaries and pensions of politicians, judges, doctors, top guards, secondary school teachers, principals and vice principals, universities professors and lecturers, with THREE MONTHS HOLIDAYS paid for the rest of the population, HSE executives and consultants, RTE executives, producers, and presenters, etc. etc., are adjusted to the economic situation of the country. Also the pensions of retired people in these categories should be adjusted accordingly.

    The same way there is a minimum wage there should be a maximum salary in the Public Sector. And the salaries and conditions of nurses, guards, primary school teachers, and other public sector workers offering Frontline Services, should be protected. If the status quo is left as it is, we are going to end in the worst possible situation paying the top civil servants exorbitant salaries, but we won’t have any money left to run the services, and people dependent on it at the end of the day will end getting third world services.

    No to Property Tax because as Gay Byrne said once is the most unfair tax, and as a woman said today in Joe Duffy’s Liveline a home it’s a basic human need and not a luxurie, except for the second or more properties. No to water charges for domestic use. And a fairer system of personal taxation where the ones who have more pays more.

    Also for people who is paying mortgages for a family home and were reap-off by the Banks and the developers during the boom, there should be a law that adjust the mortgages to the actual value of the property, and let the banks take the hit.

  31. malone

    Gentelmen and any Ladies that might be present

    I am afraid that any marches that may be planned or coming generally will not achive anything,They have the best of intentions and are very much the right frame of mind but they do not pose any threat to the goverment. If there was an local election coming up a march may have some effect but I think the time has come for National Strikes where everybody stops work. Civil Disobedience Bycott the banks etc. That is the only way to acheive results I believe.

    There is a quote from the film The Green Mile where Tom Hanks says ” men under enormous strain can crack”
    and as David has said the time is coming when people will crack. But as history also has shown when societies crack like this there is also the spectre of revolution. Do we want to wait that long ? As I said revolution might be a good thing in that it might clear the air but do we want the turmoil that it also brings ?

    • irishminx

      No, not a violent revolution, however, we can have a compassionate & kind revolution. That will bring turmoil also, only a different type of turmoil & I believe protests do matter.

  32. george

    After posting my last message I heard Shane Ross talking with Derek Mooney on The Mooney Show saying that the maximum salary in the Public Sector should be 100.000 euro!!!, including the executives of Banks that we have to bail out, and that at the moment are authorized by the Government to paid themselves up to 500.000 euro.

    And remember that water and a home are basic human rigts and not luxuries that should be taxed by greedy politicians who want to pay their fat salaries with the sweat of other peoples labour.

    And if we keep quiet and take this on the chin we are going to suffer what other peoples around the world suffered and that is very well documented in The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein.

    So what do we want??? A MAXIMUN SALARY of 100.000 euro NOW !!!

    • BrianC

      Don’t you just love the fact that Siemens want to meet with the Govt to arrange the contract to install the meters.

      Personally I think the Salary should be 75K euro and 5K paid in 6 months as performance bonus and the remaining 20K end of year again performance bonus.

      The Dail should take the same wage as those on social welfare for 18 months to focus their mind and all expenses vetted and only done via credit card wth a maximum amount agreed per month.

      • There is no doubt that we need to educate our politicians Brian.

      • Deco

        If we put the politicians on social welfare rates of pay, we would have the added bonus that they would be sober enough to do the job. No more of this Johnny Cash nonsense.

        The evidence indicates that the sobriety of government ministers has been an issue in recent years….

      • george

        Brian your proposal will make most of them run like hell. Our “saviours” come at a price, but hopefully not for long…listening today to Joe Duffy’s program I think many people have cracked and the more and the louder we keep saying it the more they have to realize that their concern and their worries for us are empty words and what we demand immediately are actions!!!

    • When do we want it??? NOW!!!

      A lot of people have heard the call for a maximum wage of 100k and the idea is gaining momentum.

      Hands off the minimum wage and no to social welfare cuts.

    • Deco

      I am hesitant to agree with it, because there might be somebody out there doing a really good job. It is a generalization, and we need to be very careful.

      But I do think we need a variation of this concerning state paid pensions, because this thing of giving Rody Molloy a massive pension for being useless and now doing nothing, well that is not on. Because you cannot have an effective state pension scheme when Rody Molloy gets 27 Million or whatever it was for retiring at an age when everybody else has to keep working. We need a cap on state funded pension entitlements at 100K per individual, or even less. We have clowns like Seanie Fitz etc.. who served on boards of state companies, with multiple NED’ships. And that needs to be cleaned up.

      • george

        Deco 27 million and a golden handshake of almost half a million!!! The more inept you are in your Job in the Public Sector the more WE have to pay them. And don’t forget the ex Financial Regulator, and Bankers cashing their “contractual conditions” while we were pumping money in the Institutions themselves brought to bankruptcy.
        Well at least we now know one of the reasons why we are broke, with social and public services on the brink of collapse.
        We should do what people in other parts of the world do and follow them around the country with placards: “inept why do we have to pay you so much???”

  33. Sam L

    Hi David

    I read your blog every week and find it a great source for information about the economic bunglings of our current government. I am compelled to say that Ireland will turn the corner because things will get so crap, they will only be able to get less crap, this is a fairly economical ignorant but optimistic forecast.

    If we do get out of this, the problems then lies with the current level of rot and unpatriotism that exists within the government and civil service, whether its obscene pensions or salaries, theft through expenses or a lack of accountability for incompetence. When a TD milks the system, he is being unpatriotic and maybe should go to jail? (Even if a jail sentence is too strong can we fine him/her?).

    What will make this country proud and successful again is a positive and inspirational leader. One we admire and that we can trust in. I say to David McWilliams stop being a spectator and step into the ring. You have the vision and the insight to lead a new party into the next election.

    If a new party was created, if the people were given another option, a new pary would win easy. Remove the old political establishment, the have lost touch with the people. Fianna Fail: no comment. Fianna Gail: We told you through polls that we do not want Enda Kenny as leader, but you told us that we were wrong. If you won’t listen to people over that, then you will never listen to the people. Labour: Eamon Gilmore must think that the common voter is a muck savage, the way he is able to talk down to them on chat shows. Sinn Fein: No comment. Greens: Good idea on green related issues.

    We need a new modern political party that has Ireland’s interests in its heart. The new government should cap all salaries and reduce the divide between those in the public and private sectors. I work in the private section and I currently looking to diversify my earnings as I want to buy a house. Its looks like the public sector is the only way to go, if I work my way up there, I will be set up for life. Hmmmmm… I wonder do I have any relations working there…maybe they could put in a word for me!

    We need a leader to drive Ireland into the next 10 years. If you can turn your political commentary and advice into something practical and get us out if this mess and become our new leader, we will vote for you, we will let you retire early and maybe even make you President, but just as long as you don’t take the piss with your expenses!

    Will somebody please take the bull by the horns?

    Sam L

    • BrianC

      +1
      All it will take is one to step up to the mantle and others will follow. The mistake George Lee made was join a status quo party and step on their toes.

      But David would make the pivotal difference and many on this forum I am sure would work to achieve the required new thinking and change.

      • Deco

        George Lee had to join a status quo party to find out for himself. Then he found out. They refused to bring Lee, an economist to their love-in with IBEC. And they cut him out of their love-in with the OECD, on St. Valentines Weekend, to coincide with a rugger match in Paris. (And nobody in the media pulled up FG on this).

        George Peorgie told the nation, and made FG cry. And FG activists avalanched the radio stations with derisory comments.

        I reckon George should have started his own party. He was already in the Dail. And he would have shaken everything up damn good.

        George – if you are reading this, you still have the option.

        I often heard the comment that a man of any integrity at all would not survive 12 six months in the Dail. George Lee is proof that this is true.

        • Gege Le Beau

          I am a little surprised at this post.

          I would not be in favour of such a person. If he could not find a way to express himself within the system and with such a massive vote of confidence then I think not. If he was serious, he would not have walked away. I don’t think he is serious.

          • Deco

            I wish he stayed in the Dail. But he did the right thing pulling out of FG, after he found out that FG were using him as a ‘showpony’.

          • Deco

            Never mind Lee, sometimes I wonder if FG are serious…

          • Gege Le Beau

            It cannot be about ‘star’ candidates, you will let down every time if you think that.

            It has to be about a broad movement involving large numbers of people with an agreed agenda for social, political and economic change. There are meetings at the end of the month in Dublin, like the one in the RDS, something may come out of it (it has to start somewhere as Dorothy correctly pointed out).

            I have to say I am absolutely astonished by the lack of activity from Labour, this is their time but they seem to be entirely focused on Eamon Gilmore as a mouthpiece. I find it hard to believe that their activists, councillors and TDs have not engaged people through ‘community hall’ meetings, instead they go for small seminars in top hotels.

            It absolutely beggars belief. The lack of a party of the left really lets Ireland down, the socialist movement in France and elsewhere shows what can be done, but not in Ireland for some inexplicable reason.

        • BrianC

          Well Deco if David was prepared to step up to the plate then George would be the very first to entice to go again. And this time he could be involved in securing real change and not have to worry about Mr RigorKennymortice Smile who has just under some 25 years of useless service in the Dail and very jealously guards his pay and pension.

          • Deco

            And there was I thinking that Kenny had found his way…..when he stated….after 25 years in politics….

            “From now on….I am going to be myself”.

  34. paddyjones

    I would say that a 10% in social welfare is on the cards, that would save about 2 billion. But we need a further 5 billion in savings to be credible. In January we will need to continue the borrowing and at rates of 6.5% this will be unsustainable we will have to go to the EU/IMF. David made a prediction of them being here before St Patricks day.
    I would love to be a fly on the wall at Farmleigh, it must be a real struggle for ministers to know that it will be on their watch that we will be governed by the EU/IMF in the coming months. All their power will dissappear and that is when the people will crack.
    I know all too well the financial struggles of the current climate but the only way is to embrace austerity and cut back to the essentials.There will be many years of hardship to come this is only the start. Every country in the world is trying to devalue and export their way out of this but we all cant succeed. Its a bit like the smart economy theory which many countries are trying to achieve only a few will succeed mainly the US and China will win out.
    Unemployment is here to stay and a huge devalue of living standards will also prevail.
    Its not looking good!

    • BrianC

      If the Govt does as the ECB instruct via Ollie Rehn then there will be no IMF.

      The challenge for the Govt is how to keep the lid on the matter and sell the new austerity package to the new subjugated Irish. They can muscle this one through by ring fencing the upper echelons of the public service at the same time attempting to appease the lower echelons threatening the IMF citing massive cuts if they come in hence front line services will be radically cut as will social welfare. By magnitude a 10% cut in social welfare is massive compared to a futher 10% cut for those on very high salaries. Will the 450,000 accept this inequity.

      As for rebuilding the economy this will be a jobless recovery and Ireland will remain with a very high unemployment level as the new manufacturing base is China and the Far East is where the high growth activity is going to take place. But there is a way out.

      • What has Ireland got to trade with?

        Oh, of course we have a young highly educated workforce that is going to conquer the world with hot air and we are the world champions are making Jelly Beans.

        Is there anything in the cupboard at all?

        Let’s see. What about that great pile of gas out in the Corrib field that Burke signed away to foreign plunderers for nothing. Strange that no-one mentions that considering we are having to find billions to pay for the fat cats.

        Apart from fat cats and gas what have we really got?

        If we take a 10% hit in welfare and go without heating oil for a couple of months then maybe we could show solidarity by chipping in and slipping the two patriotic Brians a few quid for a pint just to cheer them up after all that terribly exhausting business of making ‘hard’ decisions.

        The fuckers should be in Mountjoy Prison.

        • Deco

          Concerning the Corrib Hydrocarbon field, I have been told that Shell are not telling the truth about the reserves. And they will not tell the truth until the standoff in Bellanaboy ends. Basically, when they get their infrastructure in place, if anybody interferes then that will be a criminal act. And the state will prosecute. Shell won’t have to deal with the PR and will look like an agreived party.

          Once the infrastructure is in place, the state will not be able to negotiate with Shell, unless the state is messing with Shell’s property.

          It will work when the pensioners are lifted off the road by the gardai (often outnumbering the pensioners 3 to 1), and the infrastruture is behind fence wire.

          We must thank the pensioners for being the only ones with a conscience in this entire affair. They are patriots. They should be running the country not the clowns in the Kildare Street circus.

          • Legally it may be Shell’s property but morally it is not on. Bad laws can be changed remember. Especially if you are a bank and you suddenly discover that you have been technically breaking the law for x number of years. No problem. The law will be changed in the morning before someone has time to lodge a case against the banks

            Norway imposes something like 75% tax on offshore drilling yields so why should Ireland be any different? Does this not strike people as odd?

            Shell will pay zero tax while some of our pensioners will stay in bed to save on heating bills. We are talking about billions in potential revenues being transferred out of the country while we are being asked to miraculously come up with scores of billions to save Anglo and the rest of the debt.

            Anyway apart from Fat Cats and Gas what has Ireland got?

            No-one seems to have an answer to this question because I have asked this before and there has been not so much as a whimper.

            The reality is that we have nothing.

        • BrianC

          There is so much we can do. Unbelievably so much. But trying to pursue a ‘smart economy strategy’ is absolute folly. However, we can do it but it is a long term strategy with a 10 year horizon. We could learn a lot from the Taiwanese they had to do it and succeeded but they did not pursue a smart economy strategy they knew such would be pointless.

          What we can do is too elaborate to detail here. But let me give you a comparative example but we must remember we do not have the same manufacturing heritage as our European counter parts. But we are equally as good if not better regards ingenuity George Boole, Hamilton, Brennan, Holland and a load. more. In fact we punch well above our weight and measure.

          Some fifteen years ago Germany needed to reposition and they did pioneering solar engergy where they own most of the patents for the invertor technology and pioneered membrane technology (originally developed in Stellenbosch University in South Africa) for filtration where the initial focus was on the medicine pharma arena and has now migrated to cleansing waste water for reuse. But that took vision committment and perseverance which was appropriately financed. Now it generates billions in revenue for German industry and is sold world wide.

          There is a lot we can do and our ingenuity will lead the way. There are a lot of successful Irish companies and many small ones who can make the grade but what they do not need is the drip drip assistance that the Enterprise Ireland is tied to providing.

          It would take a couple of hours to go through all that we could do but above you need to be practical and the Fine Gael plan which I read was not totally off the mark but too vague and not very realistic.

      • Gege Le Beau

        The line about reducing wages to be competitive is a red herring. You cannot compete with low wage economies like China or even in Eastern Europe as the Dell case proves. The failure to diversify and develop the economy during the boom has come back to haunt us, and there were warnings especially about the construction sector which were ignored out of self interest.

        We also see where the ‘knowledge economy’ has got us, just a buzz word, our children, some 40,000 of them are in prefabricated buildings, our broadband infrastructure is a farce and the calibre of our graduates is questioned by the heads of the multinationals who have called the governments bluff.

        We produce next to nothing and are basically a low tax economy for multinationals to declare us their headquarters so the money from global operations can be ‘cleaned’ through.

        We do suffer from my inflated wages, but I am not speaking of those on the minimum wage, I am speaking of our elected representatives with their property empires, share portfolios, directorships and private legal, accounting and medical practices, all of which is done while accepting an enormous salary to represent the people. The State is rotten at the core as we see the scandals in the semi-states, the appalling overspend on public projects and the zero accountability across the political spectrum.

        And now, the people responsible for all of this are saying ‘tough decisions’ will have to be made, that it will be ‘painful’, I ask painful for whom? For the people of course, the people who played no part in bringing the temple down on their heads.

        We have people on here writing about their unemployment, their financial struggle, their illnesses and the need to work. These people do not feature in the RTE-PRAVDA guide, or in VIP magazine but they are the backbone of this country than enables all other things to occur. These are the majority who have remained silent for so long, these are the people who have been deliberately excluded and yet are now the ones who are now being forced to endure this cruel and inhuman economic and political agenda while the richer grow richer.

        When the opportunity arises and the election eventually comes, whether it be next week, next month or next year, speak out, influence as many people as you can and vote and make them ‘feel the pain’ but don’t stop there, don’t rest and think the job is done. We need a social transformation, to take away with the mouthpieces from the hands of the unelected who speak for the business community, who only raise their heads now but who are at the centre of this neoliberal storm.

        We have questions to ask:

        What kind of a country do we want?

        What legacy do we leave to future generations?

        Do we want to be known as financial chancers on the periphery of Europe, known contemputuosly as Ireland Inc where anything can happen?

        Do we truly want a Republic where people rise on merit and not on the basis of who they know?

        No single indvidual should have 15 to 20 houses which he rents out to those who cannot afford to purchase their own home, a system which allows that is not free enterprise, or the free market, it is a captive market, a market which discriminates against the many for the sake of the well connected few, where parasites make their money off the labour and stress of others.

        We have many questions to ask, some of them are being increasingly posed on this site. I hope we find answers to those questions, and I hope those answers are implemented because what we have now is failure. Failure for the 460,000 unemployed, failure for the many more stressed by job insecurity or bullying at work, failure for those on reduced wages (whose wages were low to begin with).

        Mary Hanafin doesn’t need to come on the radio and speak about pain, terrorising the already distraught, we have known struggle despite the talk of the Celtic Tiger, people have known poverty and financial juggling, what they can’t be expected to suffer is the insult that follows criminal mismanagement, their mismanagement, the ones giving the ‘medicine’ are the ones who brought the illness. I have said enough.

        • Pedro Nunez

          Well said, ‘people without a vision perish’, and the Irish people have been sold a pup by a disingenous patronising and self-serving ‘me-fein’ government.

          Not withstanding the hardship and the heart-rending contributions to this blog, we are a resilient, resourceful and creative people,

          Having shared that unique event of solidarity of this beautiful Irish Summer with 20,000 others at Leonard Cohen’s concerts at Lisadell, hopefully “It’s always darkest before the dawn.”

          as LC says “There is a crack in everything
          That’s how the light gets in”.

          Lets rebuild!

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5zKk76YkF1U&feature=fvw

  35. Colin

    David,

    To prevent people cracking up, why doesn’t the government sponsor people to emigrate? Why not give potential emigrants who are on the dole, an upfront payment equal to 6 months worth of dole payments upfront to leave the old sod? I know the Spanish government was encouraging immigrants living in Spain who were unemployed to leave Spain, and return home with a “golden parachute” of a few thousand Euros. Its a win-win situation for those who choose to leave. The Government has less people on the dole, and after 6 months the government is financially better off as the emigrant cannot return to claim benefit for a period of say 2 years. The emigrant leaves Ireland with a few quid in his pocket to help him start a new life abroad. Immigrants in Ireland could also qualify to get paid to return home and never again apply for welfare in Ireland.

  36. Deco

    If you want to undermine crony capitalism – don’t use socialism – just make sure that they get competition from younger, more agile competitors. The gombeen element in our society needs competition to put them out of business.

    Socialism should be restricted to supporting those that are genuinely in need of it. Otherwise it will bankrupt the entire society. And then those that need it find there is nothing there. They pay PRSI and find out it does do what it says on the tine, that instead the money is gone on bank bailouts and the whole thing is a scam.

    This is the main lesson from the crony socialism of the Ahern era. I reckon that Eddie Hobbs was the first to suss that.

    Both socialism and capitalism as options, in Ireland have been subjugated to gombeen tendencies. Both need to be reformed.

  37. Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    October 26, 2010 at 1:33 pm
    Poverty and….CRACKS….

    Best viewed fullscreen, 1200 pixel high

    http://dl.dropbox.com/u/4914840/cracks.jpg

    The above picture is a walk by shot that I took on a ‘reconn-mission’ visiting a tiny Irish Island called Gola in Donegal. Geomorphology is not my field of expertise, but I am fascinated by certain rock textures and structures all my life.

    Cracks appear over time. Some countries experience explosive breakdowns of social cohesion, others a social implosion, the latter is trued for ireland at the moment from a sociology point of view, however, a mix of both is more likely to happen once the dynamic has reached critical mass.

    The totalitarian bureaucracy that is executed now in a more stringent form since Lisbon 2.0 is showing it’s ugly face, however, cracks appeared since a long time in this structure as well. While they were ignored, or hidden from the public, they continue to widen and some of them no longer can be ignored or camouflaged.

    Some of these cracks are systemic, others are surface cracks. Under certain conditions, surface cracks can turn into structural cracks as well, weakening and threatening stability of the whole structure.

    As David said, ‘your guess is as good as mine’, there is simply not enough data available for individuals to come to informed decisions. Certain government institutions are a entirely different story of course.

    The Official Journal of the European Union, had a very important entry on 25th November 2004, a landmark entry that changed a lot and was a starting point for further developments. It was the birthday of a organisation that was conveniently called FRONTEX and was ammended later here

    http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2007:199:0030:0039:EN:PDF

    http://www.frontex.europa.eu/

    As you can read now on their website, and in FT today, Frontex deploys RABIT’s, Rapid Border Intervention Teams to Greece.

    See what I mean? All these events are more than only surface cracks, and that there is a serious flood of refugees that has not even started to move yet, well, it is known since a long time, and could be observed in small harbor towns in Italy as well. — I wrote about it here on David’s site as well. -

    The European Council on Refugees and Exiles stated: We share the view that the Agency’s mandated powers are expanding fast and consider that this is happening without due attention to the establishment and/or clarification of the Agency’s role and responsibilities in relation to human rights.

    David’s article is a good example on cracks that threaten social cohesion. Policy makers in Brussels are well aware about these trends, and they will react by force to protect their interests, I should better say the interests of the Lobbies that keeps the bureaucrats in their ridiculously high paid seats.

    The danish Jens Peter Bonde who was mentioned by Deco above, I bet 99% of irish people never heard about him, himself a former MEP, exposed the working structures of EU in a concise way since long time.

    The disconnect of politics to the people is severe, and I wish we had a quantitative and qualitative analysis tool that would allow to measure this disconnect, I would expect substantially high readings on the ‘Richter Scale of Social Cohesion’. The higher the readings the lower the social cohesion and the higher discontent and lack of true democracy, above 8.0 total collapse is a possibility.

    Combined readings could easily average somewhere around 6.8 at this stage, and a sense of desperations has entire nations in it’s grip.

    Lisbon 2.0 was a very important event in Irish history, and this nation had been fooled and tricked into agreement, by methods of emotional black mail, lies and scaremongering.

    While Mr Cowen’s legacy as a finance Minister 2004-2008 will go into the history books, it shall not be forgotten how he coerced the Irish nation into Lisbon 2.0, the biggest crime against humanity on his curriculum vitae so far.

    I am not sure whether my information is correct, but what I was told this weekend on the Irish voting system left a few big question marks with me. I was told that NO votes in a general election would be divided and distributed to other parties. So, if 45% of the people do not go to election, their votes will be counted and distributed after a formula to other parties. — May be David or other people around here more familiar with the Irish election system care to clarify this, as i am insecure whether this information is somewhat correct or not. —

    However, if we can not begin to understand this biosphere as our common, and our only way of life, we will fail to survive as a species. — Huh? — I know, pretty dramatic statement, but I see it this way since more than 30 years and the developments of late are confirming my thoughts on these matters.

    x x x x

    I believe that Biosphere consciousness and empathy are deciding key factors for our future development as a global human community, the latter is something which we urgently need to develop and define in our common interest.

    Crisis is always opportunity at the same time, hence reason for hope.

    If we continue to be sucked into the void of national interests, lobby politics and vested interests, we drive a system that goes backwards, inflicting useless pain and suffering on billions of people worldwide.

    The constant effort to sideline the United Nations are driven by the very interests that have no consideration for the greater picture at all.

    If we surrender our future to Institutions such as the IMF we are essentially voting for a totalitarian future that is driven by Insiders, to stick with David’s term, Insiders that have no concern fro the greater good of humanity, but are representatives of small and fatalistic power circles who feel they are entitled to lead the world, even if it is into oblivion, they are people with no mandate, but power and it is this power we have to deprive them from!

    Best
    Georg

    • Deco

      Jens Peter Bonde is a man of principle.

      I have listened to him, and he is a true servant of the people, and that for everybody in the EU. He has campaigned continuously to expose the corruption in Brussels and the lobbying, though the media is completely silent on this.

      He has written books for the citizens to see what is really going on.

  38. michaelcoughlan

    Hi,

    How long before people crack? I cracked up a year ago but I am ok now. I am not looking for sympathy though. Message to all commentators; Stop windbaging and get active!

  39. Philip

    We are months away from an IMF intervention. Might as well settle your minds on that one and stop worrying. Is is likely that PS salaries will be slashed along with jobs and services by about 25-30% before end of 2011.

    This country is practically 100% PS or quasi monopoly employees who support the brickies, the shop keepers etc (who laughably refer to themselves of self made entrepreneurs). The remaining few are in FDI, Multinationals and maybe a few thousand in Irish international companies or farms. SO…when the IMF land and do their 30% slash and burn, we can add another 20% plus to our 14%. Now as this starts to happen, then people at l;ast realise they have nothing to loose. Now, why precipitate this? What is there to gain. Zilch.

    Now the IMF and the like are not completely thick and they also realise that the situation has become so bad that any adjustment will cause a mass collapse. Greece, Spain, Italy, France and indeed Germany (with its massive stockpile of potential bad debts) are the collective elephant in the room whether they like it or now.

    IMF are coming – hard to see what they can do. I think very little. The sudden arrest of the global binge is upon us all. Seems like we are on the cusp of a global coming to Jesus session as never seen before.

    • Gege Le Beau

      I don’t do such fatalism. No need for the IMF to come, still a functioning economy, albeit unequal, discriminative and punitive against the majority.

      We don’t need to come to Jesus, we just need to come to our senses and realise you cannot stay silent as a citizen of a Republic for a nation of sheep does indeed find itself held to ransom by a government of wolves.

  40. Gege Le Beau

    Martin Luther King, two speeches of relevance to these times.

    How long? Not Long! Because no lie shall live forever! The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends towards justice!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TAYITODNvlM

    The Urgency of Now!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_j4h3gGYZSk&feature=related

  41. petercice

    in relation to the IMF coming to the country from some friends of mine who live in latvia they have told me that what happened was totally devistating to the country and has set them back maybe 15 to 20 years economically.
    and this is from a country that already has a very low wage structure in the civil service the adverage wage is around 400 euro per month for middle management level and in the private sector the adverage industrial wage is around 250 euro per month.
    we cannot compete with low wage countries and the constant call for driving down the minimum wage in this country as it the differencial is too great to make any true meaning.
    i think the pressure that is going to bear on the lower paid and unemployed over the next 6 months is going to be the spark that triggers everything off.
    we all know that violence is not a great advert of democracy but if you look at the historical facts of this country and many others these uprisings always have a long term good for the lower populations.
    this point may be the critical one that bears fruit here in this country in time to come.
    we as a nation have been told we are good guys we dont go out on mass like the french or greeks and this is good for our international reputation.
    if you look back at our history even in 1916 the men involved were villified by the authorities and public at large at the time and it is only over a period of time after the event were they shown to be the great leaders and visionaries of there time.
    my question is who are going to be our visionaries and leaders to gather what i believe is a mass of pent up frustration in the public at large and channel it so that we can move from the current state of play to a new dimension of life in the country

    • Deco

      Look if we are going to see mass-protests then at least have an objective. The Greeks and the French have acheived nothing and have turned people away from visiting their countries.

      The Icelanders have had group protests, and they have actually made them work for the people.

      We might learn something from Iceland. But from the French and the Greeks we will only learn how to wreck the place and alienate any chance of getting the business this country needs to get everybody into employment.

      • Deco

        No violence or inane stupidity. Just show up on Kildare Street and stay there, and nowhere else until the politicians start compromising.

        Or alternatively, pick a time when there is a cabinet meeting in a hotel in the Midlands, and surround the place, and physically block the government from getting out until they cut out the nonsense.

        Be precise in the target. Do not target those who are trying to pay their bills and keep food on the table – which is what the muppets in Greece and France are doing.

        Do it “Iceland style”. Quiet. Very peaceful. Vocal. Dignified. Persistent. Very persistent. Candlenight vigils. Intelligent analytical discussions instead of just union fat cats making loud noises. Supportive. Intelligent. Let the world know that this is the Irish sorting out Irish authority, not the Irish on a stupid raging rampage like the ‘Love Ulster’ kickback. Be careful, because you do not want that happening again. That costs us jobs, and a lot of people are in a bad way as things stand. Respect those who are in dire straits and who want to do a days work.

        • davidkelly

          here here, Agreed; Iceland is definitely the model. It’s ironic that we armchair critics have so much to say – but what is holding us back ?

          Personally, a wife & three kids and fear; also; ’tis a long way from Dublin to here.

          Shame on me.

        • Well Put Deco.

          Some people say that a people’s movement is needed and one that is up for peaceful protest could work as long as people are clear on a common objective. The last thing we want is violence and chaos on our streets. I would hate it if we gave the watching world any more excuses to laugh at us. What you said about dignity is very important. Law abiding Irish citizens would be more motivated to protest if they were convinced that many others like themselves are ready to speak up as one voice.

          Such a movement would be politically neutral and be open to anyone regardless of whether they are unemployed, working, rich or poor. Everyone welcome.

          A single issue campaign with the demand to burn Anglo would be enough. Burning Anglo is something that almost every sane Irish person believes is the right and proper thing to do regardless of which political party they vote for.

          One issue and a massive campaign to achieve the objective would be very hard to discredit especially when 80% of the people want it.

          A people’s movement needs an identity.
          Everyone in Ireland identifies with the GAA flags seen on cars in the summer but if every car in Ireland carried the flag of a people’s movement during the winter it would be noticed. The point of putting a simple flag on our cars would have meaning because it would act as a glue which would for the first time in a long time make Irish people believe that they all have something in common.

          A plain simple flag and a campaign website could raise awareness very quickly and do it better than all these fragmented and lonely Facebook pages.

          It sounds silly maybe and I am expecting to be laughed at but I don’t care. Sometimes simple and crazy ideas are just the ticket.

          Maybe there is some dragon out there who can forsee themselves making a killing selling Burn Anglo flags for 5 euros each to workers and with a two euro concession to anyone who produces their social welfare card :-)

          • Deco

            How about the simple slogan

            BIN ANIB !!!!

            No need for a flag. Just write it on the back of every dirty lorry you see. On foggy bus windows. On pavements.

            Very subtle. A persistent reminder that everybody gets agreement on. No opportunist politicians, union bosses, media ‘erpsonalities’ or anything like that.

            BIN ANIB !!

          • adamabyss

            BIN ANIB !!!!

            I’m putting it on my Facebook and Twitter accounts for a start.

          • BIN ANIB !!!

            I was five minutes away from despair last night when I thought about this and this morning I could hardly get out my chair so bad was the gloom. Ah well seeing that someone likes my idea has put a smile back on my lips. Cheers Deco

            Easy to remember

            Sounds like Binana. Thats how banana (as in banana republic) sounds in Glaswegian (re Taggart)

            A people’s slogan with one aim and one aim only

            together now …

            BIN ANIB !!!
            BIN ANIB !!!
            BIN ANIB !!!

            Something simple would do

            A single page campaign blog a clear yes or no written proposition that is politically neutral. If someone thinks it can be done via a facebook page then just go for it. I am not a facebook man so here is a chance for someone to run with the ball. Never know you might be on the late late show one day soon :-)

            A couple of well known faces who actually care about the people of this country might lend support and help raise it’s profile? Ahem.

            Where is Bono when you need him???

            Dream on. What about Joe Duffy? Oh I forgot our Joe is a socialist marxist on almost half a million a year. Oh well guess that rules him out.

            I believe that Ireland holds the key and if something seismic is going to happen it could happen here. I don’t know why I feel this. I just do.

            It is a big ask but if the banks are burned it would send shock waves across the world and ordinary people in nations across the world would call the Irish people heroes.

            The time for talking is over because time is running out. Stand together Ireland or perish and never be able to tell your grandchildren you did your duty

            Get to work all you happy facebookers and good luck

            Over and out.

        • Gege Le Beau

          73% of the French public support the strikers action, I am not sure Deco why you are attacking them so vociferously? They have done the most of any of us, have shown the spirit is alive and moreover have Sarkozy on guard for 2012, all very uplifting, it is not the end nor the beginning, but the end of the beginning.

          I am not advocating violence but lets get the record straight, the Icelanders were not the meek, silent people you suggest, they almost burned down the parliament building, smashed windows, lit fires and riot police were deployed.

          From January 2009

          “ICELAND- PROTESTERS SHUT DOWN BANKS, POLITICIANS

          Thousands stormed and shut down Hotel Borg, where PM Geir Haarde and others met to recap the events of 2008. Police in riot gear battled the crowd, spraying pepper gas at protesters, who retaliated with water balloons and fireworks. Several protesters were arrested.

          The broadcaster’s television cables caught fire during the melee, interrupting the live broadcast 45 minutes into the program which traditionally runs for two hours. The program cut to commercials, followed by an announcement from TV Channel Stöd 2 that equipment had been damaged and the show would be suspended.

          One police officer was sent to the hospital after being hit on the head with a brick.

          Iceland has been rocked with protests ever since bad economic times hit the country. Citizens stormed the country’s Central Bank in a peaceful protest in early December.”

  42. Malcolm McClure

    Repeat post from last article:
    Frankly David, I find it incredible when you say: “At end December 2006, household savings were €77bn;” and … “By the end of June 2010, household savings had jumped to €85bn”

    Even ignoring your GNP %age argument these figures defy logic. Whoever is peddling them must have a hidden agenda. In reality there has been a massive destruction of wealth in Ireland. Perhaps there are a few bulging mattresses but most of boomtime gains were reinvested in rubbish property and bank shares and bank deposits, where they took a ride on the infernal merry-go-round. If people expect the government guarantee to take up the slack when it all falls apart, they have another think coming.

    I pointed to the fact in your last article that Keynes is dead. His remedies were tried in the 1930s and they didn’t work then either. It took a world war to get the global economy moving again. And the subsequent return to full employment was because of the massive destruction of economic capacity that WW2 caused. Keynesian solutions generate destructive forces that cost millions of lives and it is the reconstruction, not the TVA / Hoover dam style infrastructure investments that give rise to universal employment opportunities.
    As I said previously, I’m in favour of Apfelstrudel economics. Short sharp shock treatment is an ECT to restart the heart, concentrate people’s minds and remind them what’s important in life. Ask any doctor.

    • After reading The Shock Doctrine it chills my blood to hear that some people in this day and age are equating economics with ECT.

      • StephenKenny

        You’re being a little disingenuous Pauldiv. http://www.naomiklein.org/shock-doctrine/the-book – it’s a book that is very well worth reading, if you can live with the various extreme political views that ms Klein describes.
        A good alternative might be “The Confessions of an Economic Hitman” (http://www.amazon.com/Confessions-Economic-Hit-John-Perkins/dp/1576753018), which is really more unsettling.

        The problem is that the ‘capitalism’ that ms Klein describes in this book (‘Disaster Capitalism’) is nothing whatsoever to do with the capitalism that many, including myself, expound and support. In fact the ‘Free Market’ that we hear so much about from people in the Financial Services sector is nothing whatsoever to do with the Free Market that many, including myself, support.

        If you don’t like the ECT analogy, the economist Joseph Schumpter described a similar process: Companies die and new ones are born. The best we can ever hope for is a state of dynamic equilibrium, that every now and again jumps from state to state (I’m not referring to countries).

        There is far too much that we all believe, and need to do, in common, to argue about this stuff. The arguments, where they exist, are about degree: the degree of state intervention, the degree of taxation, and so on.

        No doubt the high-minded political fanatics will bollox it all up when the time comes, but even if we take 9 steps backwards for every 10 forward, at least we’ll make progress. RIght now, it’s just all backwards.

        • juniorjb

          The problem there though Paul is that proceeding from a first principles theoretical capitalism and free market strikes me as putting the hypothetical cart before the empirical horse – it is a problem for your theory of capitalism if it has nothing whatsoever to do with really existing capitalism and the free market, not a problem for the world it fails to describe. In theory there is no differnce between theory and practice; in practice there is.

          • StephenKenny

            “First principles theoretical capitalism”? What ms Klein describes is corporate statism, nothing really to do with capitalism. Other than the straw-man definitions put up by anti-capitalists, the only thing that comes close to a definition (although not by name) is in Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations, which, as no one seems to do, must be read in conjunction with his earlier book “Theory of Moral Sentiments”.

            What has happened is the corruption of the political and legal systems to favour a small number of people. Support for this is so weak that about the best they can do is to use an argument along the lines of the “if it’s happened then it must be supply and demand so is right” sort of nonsense.

            Laws have been corrupted and perverted, and there is absolutely no reason to think that this wouldn’t happen under other political parties and systems.

            Until people get more truly involved, I can’t see how this is going to change, be it under so-called left, right, or any of the other 19th century political ideologies that so many seem to be so wedded to.

          • juniorjb

            It’s fine to use Smith for a definition, my issue with that though is it only perhaps describes a situation that existed in part in his own time and the subsequent development of capitalism in the nineteenth and twentieth century deviates a long way from that, so I’m not sure how useful it is for understanding what follows or the present. I’m inclined to think that pro-capitalism tends to use it’s own set of straw men too. Ultimately, though, I agree that corporate statism is what we have, especially obvious when you look at China and Russia. But that at present is capitalism, a kind of state capitalism. I’m not sure what purpose is served by arguing that this deviates from some pure theoretical description/prescription.

      • Gege Le Beau

        In agreement with you Pauldiv, easy to know some people are not at the sharp end of all this.

        Klein’s material should be required reading for all our students.

        • Thanks for your feedback Stephen. It was very useful

          @Gege. We are all on a steep learning curve and every day we learn something new that pulls us out of our comfort zone. It takes bottle to see the world through someones else’s eyes and I always like to listen to what people have to say even if their philosophy is out of kilter with my own

          There are no clear lines these days – only shades of gray. There is no capitalism or socialism now because we are into the age of Financialisation. The world is controlled with numbers stored on computer hard disks. Ireland has been well and truly Financialised.

          It is our duty to challenge things and ask why things are the way they are. Some people think the world is hunky dory and others think it is hell. It all depends of where you have been what experiences have formed your world view

  43. petercice

    Hi Guys
    see below i believe here is the start of the cracks showing and we have not even got to the budget.
    many people will say that this is an isolated insident and is not common but to me it shows that people are getting to the point of no return……….

    A social welfare office was evacuated today after a man doused a counter with a liquid thought to be petrol.

    The man (50) walked into the office in Ballina, Co Mayo, at 11.45am and poured out the contents of the container.

    The gardaí and fire brigade were called and the man was taken into custody.

    Barry Kennedy, regional manager for the western region, said nobody was injured in the incident.

    “Obviously this is something that is very, very rare and it would be a frightening experience for anybody to see people pour a liquid like that across a counter,” he said.

    “There are no physical injuries and obviously the evacuation took place straightaway and the gardai and fire brigade were on the scene very quickly.”

    It is not clear if there was a staff member dealing with the man when the incident occurred. The man was being questioned under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act and can be held for up to 24 hours.

    • Deco

      Well, he is being taken into custody. That is important. We need to keep this country safe for the Patrick Nearys and the Bertie Aherns of this world, who will never be in custody for anything they do…

    • irishminx

      @Petercice Peter, I just read in my inbox, I can’t find it here, that you are ill and unemployed and couldn’t start a business. I recommend you take a visit to your local dole office and pick up a book on schemes. Also, if you are unemployed for 6 months you can go back to education, eg, (in Cork) college of commerce, or if 12 months unemployed UCC or UCD. There are back to education and work schemes provided by the Dept Family Protection aka social welfare.
      Also, if ill………you can get an exemption from either illness benefit or disability allowance to return to part time work and earn up to €120 pw and still keep your payments. You NEED to get a letter from your doctor stating that it would be of Rehabilitative benefit for you to return to work part time, (This is very important!). On the back to education, it needs to be for a course/degree that you haven’t got. In that if you already have a degree you may not qualify, however, go and see the back to education officer in your local dole office. For back to work schemes see the officer who deal with that also. I hope this helps?!?
      There are a lot of voluntary groups too who could use your talents. Take care, minx

  44. Dorothy Jones

    White. Hot. Anger.
    Ten Years:
    Greed
    Lies
    No Governance
    No Accountability
    No Arrests Clarion call from our host DMcW?
    I cannot tolerate any further injustice.
    I am disgusted at what I have witnessed in this [my country]in the past 10 years.

    Dorothy Jones

  45. Gege Le Beau

    Spotted this posted elsewhere

    From the gradIreland website –

    “Central Bank & Financial Services Authority of Ireland

    About the organisation
    The Central Bank of Ireland is a dynamic, multi faceted organisation at the heart of Ireland’s financial system. Amongst other things the Central Bank has responsibility for monetary policy, financial stability, economic policy, the prudential supervision of the financial health and stability of Irish financial services institutions and consumer protection. The organisation is currently going through a period of significant change and expansion, in particular in the critical area of Financial Services Regulation. ”

    Wonder what a FF ministers job description would look like, oh yeah, they don’t have to draft them up for their employer, no time and work studies carried out either……..handy 200k if you can get it.

  46. wills

    David.

    The insiders are busy busy preserving their wealth power and future earnings. So the economy and its wealth yield is on hold at the mo while they play musical chairs.

    To all outsiders I say this, do not despair get sussed on how the economy is rigged and run and then you will feel less fearful and in the dark and more empowered.

  47. Tim

    Ooops, sorry. Just watching O’Dea/Owen on #vinB now. Here it is:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9R89oERKCaU&feature=player_embedded

  48. george

    The Prime Minister of Norway one of the richest countries in the world, with one of the best social services in the world, earns the equivalent of 120.000 euro and nobody in the Public Sector earns more than him. At that rate they can have four politicians, for the price that all of us have to pay, for one Irish politician with no ideas, vision or leadership qualities. And for sure they don’t have to pay for “golden handshakes” either. No wonder we are broke, and the adjustment went from 7 billon to 15 billon in less than a year!!!

    That amount is easily earn by somebody I know in this country that is a Principal in a Private School getting hundred of thousands of euro in subvention by the Irish State (we), that have three months holidays in the year, but is always complaining at how hard he works and how little he earns. And by doctors, lawyers, consultants, etc. etc. sucking money from the State (we), and pretending to be the best qualified professionals in the world when we know it is boloni!!!
    And the Croke Park agreement is an Irish solution for an Irish problem. To begin with the useless politicians that conform our Government instead of protecting the salaries and conditions of the Public Sector workers with the lowest pay that give the frontline services, and reducing drastically the salaries of overpaid top civil servants, they ended up with the most shambolic agreement imaginable. The problem still there and we ignore it…mind over matter.

    We don’t want Property Tax, nor Water Charges. We want Adjustment of current Home Loans to the actual value of Property so people don’t have to loose their family homes. We want capping of Public Sector Salaries to 100.000 euro max. , including to the Bank executives we have to bail out. We want a fairer system of taxation, public health system, and educational system similar to the one in Germany, Norway and Sweeden. And if we don’t want to end up like the people Naomi Klein describes in her book “The Shock Doctrine”, in New Orleans, Latin America, or Africa, with no rights or public services, and doing what the IMF wants, we better let “them” in Government and in Opposition know that already “PEOPLE HAVE CRACKED”.

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