September 19, 2013

Growing old disgracefully: Where elderly can never afford to retire

Posted in Behavioural Economics · 130 comments ·

‘The money is good and the suntan is free. You could fry an egg on the stones here, if you had an egg. And you could certainly sink a pint of Harp, if you had a pint of Harp.”

Do you remember that? The classic 1980s ad for Harp produced that famous line about “Sally O’ Brien and the way she might look at you.” It must have some magic to stay in the public consciousness for so long. The ad, first aired in the early 1980s, spoke to an Ireland of emigration and home-sickness felt by an emigrant out in the desert on good money, but having no connection with the place.

I am writing this from the middle of a different desert. It is 107 degrees today in Arizona and visiting the Irish Centre, here in Phoenix, reminded me of the ad. It is unbearably hot and talking to the many Irish ex-pats who have rocked up here in the desert reminded me of the bloke in the ad writing a letter home lamenting the things he missed.

However, Sally O Brien and emigration apart, one of the other things that has struck me in Arizona is the amount of frail elderly people working – putting in long hours working at shopping malls, garages, cafes and fast-food joints.

It is disconcerting to see women and men well into their late-70s, and in some cases older, working in jobs that pay the minimum wage. To a European, who expects a welfare state to look after us when we get older, the notion that we’d still be lugging ourselves out of bed, putting on some polyester uniform, beaming, “have a nice day” while on our feet for an eight-hour shift, seems all wrong.

But that is the reality for many Americans and it is very noticeable down here in the sunshine states, which have seen a huge migration of older people in the past three decades from the cold north.

Could this be the prospect for my generation in Ireland?

Yesterday, this paper carried a story that only half of workers in their 30s and 40s are saving for a pension. This generation has been most severely affected by the housing bust and is at the stage of their lives when they have young children and teenagers, so it isn’t surprising that there is hardly any money left at the end of the week to save. Yet, the same survey revealed that four out of 10 of them are concerned about having enough income for retirement.

The ability of a country to provide a pension system for its older people depends on having enough young people working to generate the tax income to divvy up to the older ones. That’s the deal. Therefore the system is dependent on having enough jobs for the average person and it is also dependent on there being not too many older people.

However, two structural issues immediately raise their head. The first is the fact that advances in medicine mean that we are all living longer. In 1961, there were 315,000 people aged 65 or over in Ireland; by 2011 this number had increased by 70pc to 535,393.

The second is the fact that more and more young people can’t find a job and without jobs there is no income to pay for the pensions.

One of the major questions is where the jobs will come from. Since the 1970s, there has been a dramatic fall-off in employment opportunities all over the Western world. For example, in the US in the mid-1970s, one person in 15 was unemployed. Today, the figure is one in six and that is after five years of the most active economic stimulus on record.

In Ireland, we know that the figures are worse on every comparison but many of us content ourselves with the fact that this is a function of the economic cycle and the worst recession in the developed world, where national income has fallen by one-fifth, domestic demand has fallen by one-third and there are over 200,000 fewer jobs in the country than there were in 2008.

But what if the lack of employment opportunity is not only cyclical but also structural – meaning that the gradual process of globalisation is moving jobs away from the country and they are not likely to come back?

A way of looking at how this process is developing is to look at the rate of inflation in various sectors since the Sally O’Brien Harp ad. If we take 1983 as our starting point and we compare the prices of various things we spend our money on, we can see how certain industries have been decimated and how certain ones have grown.

If we start at 1980 and price everything at 100pc, we see some very interesting patterns developing which have profound implications for job opportunities in the future.

For example, if telecommunications cost the equivalent of €100 in 1983, today it costs €98. Amazingly, despite the huge improvement in telecoms, it actually costs less today than in 1983. This is competition, technological advances and globalisation.

On the other hand, a day in hospital is now 511pc, or five times, more expensive than it was in 1983. Similarly, the cost of education has gone through the roof and is now 440pc higher than it was in 1983. The costs are mainly wages, so the industries to be in are clearly education and health. But these are not traded industries in the main, so we will have to sell something new to pay for these sectors.

And what might that new thing be?

The fall in the price of phones shows what has happened to employment and wages in manufacturing – people have been replaced by technology. So what is going to change to bring back manufacturing in order to employ the average guy?

And if we don’t find a sector in Ireland that might absorb hundreds of thousands productively, how will we generate the cash, which might pay for the pensions of people in the future? The cost of education and health are largely financed by the public purse, which is also dependent on the taxes from selling stuff at a profit.

This is the big conundrum facing the national economy and it is not easy to find the answers. However, one thing is clear: if Ireland doesn’t find that new industry or set of industries, the prospects for today’s thirty- and forty-somethings get closer to those of the elderly, minimum-wage workers of America’s sunshine states’.

Come to think of it, Sally O’Brien must be reaching retirement age some time soon. Doesn’t time fly?

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  1. Grey Fox

    The disgusting fact, all discussion aside, is that the ability of Ireland to provide a future for our young and by extension the entire Country has been sacrificed in the name of saving bloody Banks who care not one single jot for any of us!

    • Deco

      Bankers who are morally, intellectually, and financially bankrupt are placed at the apex of the entire welfare system.

      I remember seeing, in the history books, the pyrmaid of Russian society before the First World War. We are now heading for a similar scenario with respect to financial debt/asset ownership.

      Cleverly enough, this time, there are no demarcations between the layers. There is competition all the way down, with collusion and “circling of the wagons” at the top. The Russian revolution occurred because the Russian Imperial state collapsed in the midst of a bruising conflict with the aristocracies from competing neighbourhoods. Nowadays, the people at the top are far too smart to allow that to happen. They are also far too clever to allow the media to provide an information flow that is any way detrimental to their interests.

      I am not advocating revolution. But I am saying that there are serious imbalances in the system. And these imbalances are causing social strife. In some countries these imbalances are reaching breaking point.

      The only people that I see who were prepared to avert this cathastophe were the Icelanders.

      I strongly suspect that the West is heading down the road to social cathastophe. And possibly financial implosion as well.

    • Paul Divers

      Ireland is a conundrum. On the one hand it is heaven and on the other hand it is a hellish Gombeen hole.

      If we didn’t have a rich musical and literary heritage then world would despise us

  2. Deco

    Paradoxically, the introduction of technology into the health system has been an abject failure to improve cost or labour efficiency. Is it that there hase been a checking of progress every step of the way ? Or perhaps there has been an abject failure of management ?

    With education, costs might be going up, but standards are slipping. A lot of this is cultural. As society becomes more consumerist, and more superficial, exercises like reading and studying lose their importance.

    Concerning the pension system – the PRSI contributions of the decade of debt fuelled spending, has been thrown at the bnking system. That money is not coming back. In fact, it will only come back if the PAYE sector gets back into high debt loaded consumption.

    Ireland, has enormous debts. The elephant in the room is the debt. And that is going to have a massive influence on policy going forward. The state will sell anything that belongs to the people, or that might find a buyer, to sustain it’s own institutional priorities. As an authority system, it get more assymetric in it’s tendency to extract from the mass of the people, and pamper the few.

    Like a body that is being thrown into very cold weather, the blood supply stops in the peripheral parts. Except in this case, the resources will not be concentrated on the vital organs as we would see it. It is more more likely that the money will be concentrated on the organs that can suck in the resources for themselves.

    We are going down the road to Arizona. The pension system will be empty in ten years time. The social welfare system will be broke. But the bank bondholders will be sitting pretty. In fact todays taxpayers will be working longer than ever to keep them in a happy existence.

  3. michaelcoughlan

    “This is the big conundrum facing the national economy”

    Good article, political in nature thankfully.

    Re above; the corporate sociopaths don’t care about the economy, old people or 40 something’s. They maximise profit and live in gated communities.

    Sun tzu said you must know your enemy before you can deal with him David. More politics please David and less economic analysis based on a normal healthy rational persons view of the world.

    • Deco

      The are gamblers. They are playing a game. They are playing with other people’s money. The other people think they have given their money to rational professionals. Really, they have given their money to irrational chancers on testosterone (and often cocaine as well).

      The whole value system has become financialized. The results in terms of quality are awful, but in terms of quantity are superficially impressive.

    • michaelcoughlan

      Hi David,

      Look at the picture of Bernanke in today’s Irish times. Massive difference to the carefree pictures of recent times. No tapering and FINALLY we see the realisation written on his face that his whole life’s works is proof of how NOT to do things.

      Gold is the only hope now. It will collapse first and then skyrocket. Fuck him and all like him.

      • 5Fingers

        It is beyond a currency issue. The rules for economic growth have changed. Bernanke et al and our dear host are all playing by the same old rules. Economics as a method for solving these issues has simply failed. It’s going political and it will go extreme. Republicans and Democrats alike are too aligned and too stuck in their ways. People will become disillusioned en mass and suddenly – that is what scares me. And gold will be about as useful as sand on a desert island.

        • The worlds monetary system is doing exactly what it has been designed to do. It is a debt based, interest bearing Ponzi scheme.
          It will suck all dry to the benefit of its masters.
          As far as gold is concerned. The only people who diss it are western governments and media.
          The rest of the world amass it. We will see who is right within the next 5 years.
          Over the last decade it has been only exceeded by silver in its ability to retain ones purchasing power. That is it has been the best investment. Likely will be over the next decade too.

  4. 5Fingers

    David, medicine and education will follow suit. These too will be engineered and computerized as will all white collar disciplines. Even computer programming will be computerised.

    So we are all out of a job – except for the “elites” controlling it – but wait, are we not trying to predict a future based on the rules of the present?

    The fact is that most people who go through the education system as we know it wind up as generally useless. We are all rushing to get points for those jobs that pay the most. Pretty well like buying shares when they are rising – usually a very very bad idea.

    Medicine? If anything, looking around me it seems people look sicker than ever before. I am sure it has little to do with medicine. More like stress and over indulgence in distraction to hide from what is a very difficult to predict world.

    Let me give you a prediction. I think the demographic will be like this….those who have managed to live a good age up to now will likely to living another few decades. Those who are with young families…I give them about another decade if they keep going on the same way as before.

    We have to change or we are all dead in about 2 decades. Forget about “solutions” – we have enough idiots hawking and hyping crap. We need to stop doing things that simply do not work. e.g. like voting for the same idiots over and over again.

  5. McGoo

    Even those of us who have been paying into a pension fund for decades are unlikely to ever be able to retire. My pension fund, started when I was 24 years old, is worth less than the money that has been paid into it, and most of my middle-aged friends seem to be in the same situation.

    The answer, for those of us lucky enough to not have been caught in the property crash, is that we will emigrate. We will rent out our houses in Ireland, and live on the rental income in warm, low-cost places. Even in cheap countries, the major cities will be too expensive, so expect to see old Irish people living hippy back-packer lifestyles in the isolated fishing villages of the third world.

    Of course, health care in those places will not be nearly as good as Ireland, so those old people will, on average, die earlier than they would have in Ireland. That’s a risk we’ll take – it’s gotta be better than spending your dotage asking idiots if they want fries with that.

    • 5Fingers

      There is not a shred of evidence that more healthcare gives a longer and better quality of life. There is more than ample evidence to show that frugality (not to the point of starvation naturally) does work wonders for health. If the majority of us are old, then it looks like we are the real market and we may be the better for backpacking and leading a hippy lifestyle.

      • bonbon

        Barry O’Bama earned his moustache the moment he said on TV, about the hip replacement for his terminally ill grandmother :

        Obama’s Townhall: Eliminate ‘Life Unworthy of Life’

        O’Bama’s Peter Orszag and Ezechial Emanuel (known to frients as E-Z-kill) brought EVIDENCE BASED healthcare to the USA. One of these designed Blair’s N.I.C.E, National Institute for Citizen Elimination. (sorry Clinical Excellence).
        The evidence is brutally clear – nazi healthcare is on the agenda right now.

    • @McGoo paying Is all fine and dandy until you come to collect I joined a pension In 1965 and went to collect 3years ago I was offered €3 a year or a cash lump sum of €113 to cash In the pension now the pension was the construction federation pension CIF hailed as the best pension In the world the excuse Is there computers only go back to the 90s it’s criminal what goes for normal In Construction? Tom Parlon CIF chief wages In the region of €300.000 P/A so I don’t have to wait 10 Years to serve Big Macs I’d be at It already only I lost a Leg . It’s not 1 Industry that will Lift Ireland up but hundreds of Small industries . but first we must root out Corruption It’s Doubtful If It can be done without a Revolution I’d Like to think It could . The assumption of debt that Is not Ours and corrupt Administrators will have to be Purged For us to move On,

      • McGoo

        Michael, that sounds bizarre! It sounds as if the deductions from your wages were not being paid into the pension fund by your employer. And the fund administrators are saying that they have not kept full records? You should speak to a solicitor about the possibility of suing them both.

        If nothing else, you should publicise your case, to warn people who are still working in the construction industry to check what’s really happening to their pension deductions.

  6. Clarence Beeks

    Sure we’ll be grand David!!!

    Don’t you know the American Multinationals (that pay no tax here) will supply endless jobs and prosperity for all!!!

    Now move along people….

  7. The system failure providing a suitable lifestyle for the elderly and a provision for opportunities for the young is because the existing system failed and not because of more older people are living longer .

    The failure of the English language to give insight to the obvious solution is the real problem and the dumbed up soap talk we watch on TV contributes to that .

    More elderly will continue to arrive and that should not be seen as a detriment or obstacle to the advancement of society .

    There are simple solutions and our failure to see those is the real problem and not the increasing number of elderly in society .Until we decide to make time to find those simple solutions and be determined to act on it we will only continue to speak about the pain and not the cause .

    • martino

      I don’t follow your thinking on the English language John. Could you expand, please?

    • 5Fingers

      John, there are no simple solutions and you say as much by saying we have to find them. There are loads of causes and loads of outcomes. It is complicated and messy.

      I agree that the anglosphere model of the world leaves a lot to be desired and is incapable of expressing cause and certainly a lot of old culture and tradition is ignored at our peril – if for no other reason it has been around a hell of a lot longer than most of the recent stuff.

      Face it, modern economics and high finance just does not work. It is mostly cobblers made credible by computing power – Unlike say, well tried and tested double entry accounting. We need solidity NOW without worrying about the future. That starts with a new constitution and maybe a need to review what the elders did right as seems to still survive to this day.

      • Words are expressions of ideas and how we think and implement those .We are insular in our mindset and choice of words and expressions on this island and we fail to see it and those in power recognise this and manipulate us as a result .Thus the conundrum or perceived failure or impossibility to solve or the blindness to feel the shape light ahead .Our hunger to be excited to solve is dampened and thus the collective national amnesia of no hope.
        The solutions are easy .Finding the will to lead is the problem .And the pain continues .We call this Politics…..actually …Irish Politics ie the voice for the chosen few .

        • 5Fingers

          With all due respect, that could be seen as a victim’s/ loser’s response and an insult to Irish Culture. The reality is that we have all (globally) walked into this. Politicians are equally powerless and it is natural that those with power, assets or anything to loose will run for status quo. Our open economy means we get to see it and be affected accordingly more rapidly.

          I am actually very hopeful about the Irish mentality and we should not be overly focused on the way ahead when really we really do not have a clue and never will. The mentality I am looking for is that making do with what you have now and going for it. Like sport, you keep some options open for the next move. The Irish are good at this and for me, the primary barrier are the laws and silly regulations that encumber rather than liberate business here. We just need to stop this nonsense and the rest will follow.

          • Grey Fox

            +1 wholeheartedly agree, let common sense prevail, the underside of the Ryanair Plane that took part in Flightfest last week said it loud “U Never Beat D Irish”
            I for one will be reengaging in a new business venture in the near future, it will start small and stand or fall on its merits, self financing, growth will be slow but it will be real!

          • Deco

            The Irish are very good at beating the Irish. It seems to be the guiding philosophy of gombeenism.

        • Paul Divers

          “Finding the will to lead is the problem”

          This is the heart of the matter.

          There is a sniff of revolution all through the comments today and the fear is tangible you could almost touch it


    I know people who spent a lifetime “working” in the c service, 20 yrs after retirement they are still being paid 35 k per annum. Completely unaffordable in a small stagnant economy. We will pay a high price for the crazy increase in the birth rate over the past decade, 65,000 new school leavers looking for paid work each year ! Rents in Dublin have barely fallen despite the collapse in the housing market, yet another problem . Americans are great @ taking any kind of job, most school leavers here wouldn’t take a restaurant job in a million years. Living with your parents indefinitely is the only way to stay financially afloat , a big come down from previous decades.

  9. Adelaide

    I’ve come to the conclusion after years of ‘engaging’ with the General Public:

    The General Public consider you knowledgeable when you talk about the present economic problems that they are experiencing.

    The General Public consider you knowledgeable when you talk about how inaction to address their present economic problems will worsen their problems in the future.

    The General Public consider you a CRANK when you talk about solutions to the present economic problems that they are experiencing.

    The General Public are generally happy with the present economic problems that they are experiencing as long as some CRANK does not bother them with solutions to their problems.

    At all costs the General Public will avoid exercising their brains. Their mantra is “I’ll take the pain as long as I don’t have to think about it.”

    ‘The One Percent’ are the only ones exercising their brains. And good luck to them.

    That is my conclusion.

  10. eamonnmoran

    Funnily enough Sally o Brien was the the Mistress in Allo Allo and that scene was done in the Harbour bar in Bray.

    I wrote on this topic in the Irish times.

    I think you are spot on in a lot of what you are saying.

    The outlook for people in their 20′s-40′s now is grim.
    Another aspect is that from the CSO virtually nobody who is renting even those over 35, has a pension. This is double trouble as people wont have a free place to live when they retire.

    • Adelaide

      “Another aspect is…”

      The 35+ age group, working and reluctantly renting, no spare cash for savings not least a pension, present-day house prices are but a pipe dream. A sizable portion of a generation in employment who face the real prospect of living their pensionless retirement on the streets. Homelessness. Worth an article, David. A refreshing change of gloomy focus from the ‘mortgage arrears’ hand-wringing.

  11. Hi Eamon, Well written piece.

    I an intrigued that you cited the ESRI study about this problem which was published in 2013 and told what has happened, anyone can do that. But you didn’t refer to not the book and doucumentary which foretold it all and was publihed six years ago before the crash – The Generation Game?

    Why is it thst so many Irish writers wait until somethign is confirmed by some State institution or other before they write and then don’t even cite that this has all been predicted and put squarely in the public domain years ago?

    The TV documentary The Gerneration Game was watched by over 400,000 people each night for three consecutive Monday nights and it hammered home the point again and again. This was not news in 2013, but in 2007.



    • 5Fingers

      In Nassim Taleb’s book on Antifragility – paraphrasing…First they ridicule you and when you are proven right, they say you’re over simplifying it to demean your contribution. You are years away from being acknowledged. The charlatans are still being taken too seriously. You need to distance yourself more.

      The enormity of the mess has yet to dawn on people. People simply have no means of understanding this level of change. Our recent history over last 2-3 generations does not equip us. I would even hazard that none of us here fully understand it.

      You might wind up in the history books yet!

    • Original-Ed

      “Why is it that so many Irish writers wait until something is confirmed by some State institution or other before they write and then don’t even cite that this has all been predicted and put squarely in the public domain years ago?”

      They haven’t got what it takes to visualise anything into the future – they’re only historians.

      It must be those Scottish genes that has given you the gift – after all the Scots have been the most inventive people on this earth while the Irish just wait around hoping that something will turn up. Democracy is Ireland’s biggest problem as it enables gobshites to elect even bigger gobshites.

      The response here to your piece is very depressing as there is so much aimless flailing about – nothing to hang onto.

    • Watched It David I admired Your honesty for years An I’m an oul Lad. Yes 2007 I remember Going to stillorgan with my boss and meeting a Line of trucks Like an endless train I said to my boss this will end In tears he said No The people were to smart to Let That happen.Mary Harney was touring Eastern Europe telling the Citizens Come to Ireland It’s a Great Place To Live and Rear a family. even I could see there were nothing being Loaded onto ships to pay for all this Panic . this was the start of decking Paddy plastic paddy followed quickly . find It hard to understand Why No one Listened to you,

    • eamonnmoran

      Hi David.

      I agree. In the generation game you did point to what was likely to happen. Well done for doing this. That was important but because you were making predictions on the future. Policy makers can disagree and ignore if it suits them. So they did.
      The reason I talked about the ESRI stats and other stats showing the reality is that so many people in positions of power continue to ignore the reality. Both the public and private sector.
      Some economists and commentators have started to talk about the disproportional burden put on the backs of the 30-40′s through negative equity and the 18-30 through lack of opportunity and forced emigration. However they are still in the minority.
      I still think young people fail to fully understand how much they are being jilted, mainly because its being done in quite a clandestine fashion, and as long as that is the case we are unlikely to see policy change.
      The evidence backs this up.
      In the UK Young people have never been more likely to be on benefit and older people hold a larger proportion of wealth than ever before. However when you survey young people they have never cared so little about those on welfare and so much about the rights of older peoples pensions.
      Similar results have been shown from Irish studies.
      It seems to me that opinion leaders who are generally older have had a PR coup and have manufactured consent on this issue brilliantly.
      The reason I like to focus on the facts of what is actually happening is because, as usual, what is common sense isn’t very common.

  12. whatamess

    Gold won’t save the day

    Neither will an Punt nua

    Our politicians and voters are allowing the banks to continue with their programme of devastation… so what not castrate these banks and reinstate Glass Steagall?

    as for the future?? …well if the derivatives bubble goes ‘KABOOOM’ and it’s a good bet it might,then we will be blown back to the Stoneage!

    DMW,who can’t seem to help himself remind us of his Oracle status,
    can’t or won’t devote even one article or even a few contributions here on his own blog about Glass Steagall…his silence is simply deafening and David,even Homer nodded yea

    it seems to me that without reinstating GS ,all valiant efforts and progress that MAY happen, could SO easily be wiped away with an impending derivatives bubble bursting …surely as a first step,we need to de-venom,de-fang these serpent banks?

    Nasa crossed the ‘heliosphere’ recently with Voyager …i’m wondering if derivatives do go bad,are we too crossing inter stellar space with no idea of what lies ahead…just more darkness and uncertainty..
    I see Bernake and the like at the helm screaming “warp speed ahead” …further into the UNKNOWN

    what a mess!

    • Paul Divers

      Our host is taking a savage beating today and I was starting to feel for him until you pointed out that not once has he ever mentioned GS in his writing.

      Bonbon has being going on about GS for years on this forum and has changed minds. It quite rude and frankly odd for a blogger to ignore his guests and I can understand now why some people are calling the good man a crank and smothering him in an avalanche of custard pies today

      My eyes have been opened today. Thanks Irish Brothers.

    • michaelcoughlan

      David posted about a year ago a response to bonbon to stop diverting the thread to Gs.

      Bonbon (like all trolls) completely ignored the request even though McWilliams was politely asking him to FUCK OFF and stop hijacking other people’s property in that case McWilliams own website. I suspect David dosent respond because 1) he knows how bonbon operates and 2) since the policies being implemented by the worlds financial elite are being done to preserve banking at all costs only someone with the blinding clarity of a madman like bonbon would go on and on about a policy like GS even though it has no basis in fact for modifying the utterly perverse modus operandi of the system as it stands.

      Hitler wasn’t stopped by telling him over and over again you can’t keep whacking the Jews until the cows come home he was only stopped by turning one city after another in germany into a heap of rubble. Glass stegal won’t stop these guys either. They will simply circumvent it.

      • michaelcoughlan

        Hello David.

        Jpmorgan massive fine. No one at the top admits wrong doing. Makes the sociopaths in anglo look like the tooth fairy.

        Did you ever wonder why David that none of the highly paid commissars in RTE Pravda ever asked the question as to why David Drumm managed to get a company in the US to hire him after he fucked up royaly in Anglo?

        THEY KNOW he will protect the banking establishment no matter how psychotic the policies are!

        Makes a complete and unadultareated nonsense of bonbon’s whine ” I think we should bring back glass stegal”

        The people over there know he’s a top person for

        • whatamess

          It’s not “Bonbon’s whine” and while he was maybe a lone voice on this site about GS , he no longer is!
          It makes perfect sense to me to REGULATE the entire financial sector!!!!!!!!! Only a “madman” wouldn’t consider it !

          MMc,when u enthusiastically “whine” about Gold skyrocketing and it being now “our only hope”,we all know you’re bedazzled and blinded to the big picture!

          Wouldn’t sun tzu CONSIDER GS as an option( with whatever refinements/addendums) in preventing ANY future repeat of what’s gone before? or would he focus on and worry how this STRATEGY can be circumvented? Yes there will be RESISTANCE by very powerful interests!That’s a given!!no one said it’d be easy!
          The “system as it stands” needs to CHANGE! as Bonbon might say:

          “Get it?”

          I would have HUGE scepticism that the Punt nua will ever emerge with the current Irish Govt! Perhaps there are some that have the same level of scepticism that GS will ever be reinstated and that’s just fine,but i for one, wanna know more how WE the people can take more CONTROL of our futures and job #1 is controlling the bankers and limiting OUR risk as close to zero,as possible.

          if we all had even glimpses of Al Pacino’s spirit in this 4 min clip,maybe just maybe,we’d have a chance..have the banking elite quelled that hunger and desire??

          • michaelcoughlan

            Hi whatamess.

            Thanks for your response. Your response is articulate and well reasoned so let me be polite in explaining my point.

            I agree from a logical perspective that GS will work, has worked and is viable.

            My point is that the people who run the worlds financial system see nothing other than their own view period. They have no room fog morality, abiding by the law ethics or even self preservation. I told a little story before about a frog and a scorpion to illustrate the point so let me recount again;

            A scorpion wants to cross a river but can’t swim when along comes a frog. Scorpion says to the the frog let me ride on your back as you swim across. Frog says you will kill me with your sting. Scorpion says we will both drown if I do so the frog let’s him on his back.

            Half way accros the scorpion stings the frog and just before they both die the frog asks why to which the scorpion responds; I can’t help it it’s in my nature.

            Remember that beautiful Irish girl killed in Sydney by the serial rapist last year? Do you think he could be stopped by 1) moral considerations 2) threat of life in jail 3) any other reason?

            No. It’s in his nature.

            The people who control the worlds financial system aren’t in it for the money. They fuck the world because 1) they can 2) it’s in their nature.

            Neither McWilliams arguing intellectually and consistently accurately nor bonbons madness is going to make the slightest bit of difference.

          • Ryu Hayabusa

            Good rousing speech from the Almeister! Could do with some of that passion and fire in the political realm which Alas is populated in the main by hapless, time-serving eunuchs.

        • Paul Divers

          He is not interested.

          Waken up

          • whatamess

            Michael,when you say “the people who run the worlds financial system see nothing other than their own view period. They have no room fog morality, abiding by the law ethics or even self preservation” you are of course perfectly right…the Gordon Gecco types and their nature is to take no prisoners!!
            but they and their kind don’t RULE us !!

            We have legislation to meet the task if the WILL of the people is there ! and an ounce of prevention is better than a pond of cure!

            Can the financial sector ever be brought to heel, given the political realities? …i don’t have the answers, but surely we must TRY ?! Us trying just might make “the slightest bit of difference” and as Al would say ,”life’s a game off inches”,right?

            and fair play to you MMc re Limerick Community Grocery !!!!

      • Paul Divers

        Thank you Michael. You answered the question intelligently and it explains the mind games and agendas behind this blog which I am not privvy to.

        • whatamess

          David Drumm protecting “the banking establishment no matter how psychotic the policies are!” is the reason they hired him?????????…if they wanted a well trainer Doberman,they wouldn’t have to pay so much!He was hired coz he plays “the game” very well.The nuances of this ” game ” are delicate and he has skills!You have ZERO intellectual insights into his appointment and the employers’ motivations for his appointment, but conveniently,have jumped to your own conclusions…
          HOW HOW HOW does this make a complete and unadultareated nonsense of bonbon’s whine ” I think we should bring back glass stegal”…which by the way is now my whine also,or until i’m convinced otherwise ( to which i’m very open too… )
          HOW? What colour is the sky in your world ??

          David Dumm is not my master and he and his like CAN be CONTROLLED !

          • michaelcoughlan

            Thanks for this.

            Playing the game and protecting the establishment are the same thing. You are right I have no intellectual insight into the motives of why his employer hired him but you have offered no insight into why they did notwithstanding the debacle in Anglo.

            Did the thought occur to you that the skills you refer to might include insuring GS never ever ever gets reinstated?

          • Paul Divers

            Guys like Mr Drumm are small boys.

          • Deco

            The name of the game is to keep the wool pulled over the eyes of the sheep, so that the flock will not know what is going on.

            Or if that does not work, keep them to distracted, and fractured to do anything about it.

          • whatamess

            I have offered no insight into why they did notwithstanding the debacle in Anglo”
            I’ve no idea what his contract terms were ,but the debacle in Anglo is laced with subterfuge and these bankers dont want angels for senior management,they want demons !….and his cost to company ,considering his performance related role,is mickey mouse money!

            Q”Did the thought occur to you that the skills you refer to might include insuring GS never ever ever gets reinstated?”
            Yes it did occur to me that a bankster would ,very naturally,resist GS which would put an end to his gallop,but bankers don’t RULE the world …it’s easy to come back on me and say they do rule the world.In short,faced with such adversity ,it’s easy to give up

      • Paul Divers

        I don’t buy McWilliams but have been contributing to his forum for years. I had Colin pointing out that I am a troll and that David told me fuck off. Only problem is David seems to have a coded way of telling people to f off that we are not all privvy to.

        Is it an Irish thing?

        As far as I am aware I have never been told to fuck off and neither has other contributors. In short you are making a drama out of nowt.

        Am I a troll and did David tell me to fuck off?

        Maybe I was so drunk I could not remember it?

        You seem like an hoonest guy Micheal and if yourself or Colin could shine a light and educate me then I shall be grateful for you help

        Some us are just a bit slow. Know what I mean?

        • michaelcoughlan


          I’m a bit confused. What’s your conection to bonbon?



          • Paul Divers

            Why do assume there is a connection?

          • michaelcoughlan

            Hi Paul,

            Let me be polite and I will respond honestly. I have never met bonbon. I personally think that bonbon whoever that is is exceptionally talented intelligent well educated and provides manny comments of outstanding substance to this forum.

            The trouble is that there is no room at all in bonbon’s mantra and dogma for other peoples points of view and when asked to be respectful of that fact by McWilliams completely ignored him. That makes bonbon a threat to EVERYBODY on the board. Glass stegal will be reinstated Paul but only AFTER people with the foresight to implement policies that work in the circumstances as they are and not as we would like them to be are implemented.

            I have no hidden agendas personally speaking. If you think I have ask any question and I will answer openly.



          • Paul Divers

            Apologies for my earlier outburst Michael.

            After watching a documentary about Iraq and the deliberate starvation of 600,000 children via sanctions I was not in the best of moods. I can’t do anything about these crimes and felt impotent and angry. Rage in fact. It’s been a while since I felt like that

            I know you will understand because you know that there is no need for this type of madness. Bonbon may me mad but he is not as mad as our leaders who I no hesitation in calling mass murdering psychopaths

            Thanks for clearing things up Michael. I’ve no beef with you and believe you are a good man. What is more you sound like someone who can be trusted in this day and age of incessant bs

            I’ve not got a clue who Bonbon is and I see the danger but somewhere among his madness there is truth.


          • michaelcoughlan

            Hi Paul,

            No problem. I’ll tell you something which used to piss me off about McWilliams. He waxed lyrical about housing bubbles but very little to nada about the gargantuan bubble in bonds and stocks at centuries highs even though the countries themselves are hopelessly insolvent! Beggars belief.

            Also leg me give you my two pence worth on Syria. There is a 3800km pipeline ending there on the meddeteranian coast bringing gas from Iran, Iraq and controlled by gasprom the Russian company.

            Hopelessly bankrupt USA (cant taper QE) needs to control the flow because the Fracking technology in the US will allow them to flood the market. If the iranians are allowed to export the price will collapse and/ or the Iranians will continue to have a strong hand. The Americans will starve everybody in Iran to prevent that from happening. Mcwilliams’s imput on this issue? Nada. Thats why he makes his living as a free lance journalist.

          • Paul Divers

            Hi Michael,

            There is a huge pool of 200 billion cubic metres of gas in the Tamar field which is in Israeli waters and I believe the first delivery of gas was piped to shore in March this year

            Israel now has a solution to it’s energy crisis but it appears they and their accomplices in Washington still want to control the whole region even if it means causing millions more deaths.

            Madeleine Albright Says Deaths Of 500000 Iraqi Children Is Worth It:


            What they have done to Iraq is mind boggling in it’s cruelty and I demand that Bush, Blair and people like Ms Albright face an international court

            The poverty levels in Britain and Amerika are soaring as governments milk every cent from the people to pay for their perpetual wars. In some ways I think we are already living in world war 3 but just that it is different type of war – a war to keep up perpetually in fear of the bully boys

            Re McWilliams I can only say contrast him to Abby Martin and start watching Breaking The Set on the Russian channel. Then you will see and hear what integrity is and what it sounds like

            To understand what types of monsters we are dealing with the two links below is a good place to start for anyone who is not quite at the races yet

            Iraq Deaths 1,445,590

            Cameron’s Britain

            Good luck Michael

        • Colin

          I remember the fuck off message was quite clear. Then again, I was sober, you were/are not.

  13. Deco

    Well, Larry Summers has withdrawn from the race to be Fed Chair.

    Jannet Yellen will presumably take the position.

    To be honest, the decision is of no relevance, when the priorities of both are the same. And the priorities of both are Wall Street.

    And let’s face facts – after Duisemburg stood down in the ECB, the priorities of the ECB have been at the same level.

    And now the Irish banks are accountable to the ECB. The ECB is increasing it’s power all of the time. And it does not care about who pays for this expansion. Let those who take the hit, try some austerity, to rectify the recklessness that the ECB goaded them into in the first place.

    • +1 the banking system controls the monetary system. Thus controlling the politicians, thus controlling the country (ies), thus controlling the policies and the peoples.

      The current financial system is in the Grand daddy of a bubble in money production, which has gone exponential into the blow off stage prior to collapse. US alone has doubled the debt in 5 years and is adding a trillion a year to the money supply.

      Supplementary bubble is the bond market about to blow.

      McWilliams addresses none of these issues. He has to be mainstream or he is out of a job and no more trips around the world paid partly for by you the taxpayer.

      It is time to address the fundamental issue of monetary reform. Glass Steagall is merely a distraction to keep ones gaze diverted from the real problems.

      In the main I am with Deco’s observations, Michael Mc, and Cooldude, not forgetting Greyfox and RR6.Adelaide too.

      Mostly I am too busy working on a farm and enjoying it. With luck I will live to 105 with another 35 years doing so and call it retirement. I am as fit as at 20 years age but far less agile. I recognize my healthy good fortune but also it has been earned as well as inherited.

      I never expected the government to be able to support me because even as a 12 year old in 1955 I could see how impossible it was for the current economy to pay for ever increasing numbers of pensioners. I knew I had to save for myself. So anything I get now is received as a temporary benefit. It is preposterous to expect the current generation to pay for my existence and fund a lavish lifestyle. At some point I may have to ask for my childrens’ assistance but until then they are free to fly.

      Meanwhile I go to the Sat market (Local organic produce and artisans) and a sail boat race tomorrow. a working retirement can have benefits too.

  14. “If Ireland doesn’t find that new industry or set of industries, the prospects are …”

    So it’s wait for the ‘next big thing’ to sweep us up in its wave then? But what is this next big thing? What’s it going to be? Does you even have an idea of what it might look like?

    The last ‘big thing’ was, broadly speaking, computerisation and the technology following from it that transformed workplaces. That wave has more or less subsided – the dividend has been reaped. Whatever new industry, or set of industries that comes along in its wake, will not avoid the inevitable consequence that all new technology displaces and ultimately eliminates jobs and employment. We have not yet reached a stage where the overriding purpose of industry is to create and sustain employment, as a social endeavour. The overriding purpose remains that of creating and sustaining profit levels, which in the final analysis can only be done at the expense of labour, jobs, employment.

    So in fact, what is needed, and what we should be searching for, is not the ‘new industry or set of industries’ but an actual INDUSTRIAL POLICY, which will serve human society and not vice versa. Human intervention and social engineering is the order of the day, not trusting everything to some mythical ‘invisible hand’.

    It’s called socialism, David but I realise that word gives you the heebee jeebees so feel free to call it something else if you like.

    • Paul Divers

      Excellent post. A1.

    • michaelcoughlan

      Forget socialism or any other ism. They are ALL discredited.

      “We have not yet reached a stage where the overriding purpose of industry is to create and sustain employment, as a social endeavour” wrong. ;


      Ireland’s first attempt and going from strength to strength;

      I should know I’m one of the founding directors.

      The rest of you have spent far too long talking yourselves up your own arses on McWilliams website.

      • Grey Fox

        Impressed Micheal, pity its in Limerick I am in Dublin.

      • Paul Divers

        You have just exposed yourself and managed to make yourself an enemy of moi. That is an achievement not even Colin could manage with all his prejudices, sexual anger and unjoined up thoughts. He has been purged. You are next

        You are a ‘founder’? Gosh I’m impressed!

        To some working class people such titles sound impressively noble and that is why ‘founders’ have influence. Founders are usually self indulgent, cuddly and non-committal backstage types with altruistic intentions who remain silent but you are a guy who likes to flaunt it

        I’ve never liked you because underneath that friendly founder rhetoric there is a bitter mind with an agenda that has made me dislike you since you first appeared on this forum

        Founder is a nice cosy word that implies brothership and empathy. It’s almost irresistible and sounds much more ‘friendly’ that for example Chief Executive Officer (CEO). It sounds almost perverted

        Keep on with this line I will use brutally simple logic that will make you appear like a sad old man peering up at shafts of light representing his anguish at having wasted a life

        Founder my foot.

        • michaelcoughlan


          What bitter agenda do I have? We have never met and if anything your post is replete with bitterness. I can’t say that I don’t like you. Use any simple logic you wish. I have nothing to fear.

          • Paul Divers

            Don’t tempt me. I will know everything about you in 5 minutes flat if I want to but you are nobody. I have methods :-)

            You are bitter. Your posts are laced with bitterness and you rarely bring humour to the proceedings. You are dull and spireful and that is why you are so boring

            Glad you have nowt to fear. Good.

          • michaelcoughlan

            Read your own posts Paul. You’ll learn far more there.

          • Paul Divers

            Something wrong with my posts Micheal?

        • Hi Paul

          Quote above

          Thanks for clearing things up Michael. I’ve no beef with you and believe you are a good man.

          changed your mind did you?

    • Paul Divers

      There is no new wave. You are stuck with punk.

      Industry begin at home.

    • 5Fingers

      Industrial Policy makers are usually of a group who never started or managed a business in their life and if they did, it is because they failed and got feather-bedded in some quango or other because they never quite made it in the big bad world.

      You are right to be fearful of those who believe in the invisible hand of laissez faire economics of survival of the fittest. But the exact opposite which amounts to Stalinising has its issues as well.

      Big businesses will be just heavily capitalised but not necessarily large employers. We are entering an era where we have more opportunities for small business and indeed sole traders AND it will flourish if let. The trick here is to ensure that the negotiation and lobbying strength of big business is not allowed to crowd out small business and that the latter are not overly drowned in big business like regulation. It’s about letting things breath rather than forcing anything with a “policy” that will be inevitably strong-armed by big players.

  15. Paul Divers

    Short posts are effective and deadly. Monologues are interesting but no-one cares.

  16. DB4545

    So what do we do people? Would you allow someone put you across a table and f**k you up the a** without your consent? We’ve allowed these people to do that to our State, by failing to protect our poor and vulnerable, by failing to protect our children who are emigrating,and therefore failing to protect our future. Do we shout stop or keep suggesting a different brand of lubricant every week?

    • Paul Divers

      There is a multi million euro bounty awaiting the entrepreneur who has the balls to exploit Irish sexuality.

      A goldmine.

      • Colin

        Go for it!

        You have all day and night (wink wink) to achieve it.

        As you can see, I haven’t been purged, because there is nothing to purge. I just don’t have the time unfortunately, having a life and all that.

        You mate Joe R thinks he’s clever, but anyone can google ‘Peter Brock critique’ and select plenty of material which attempts to smear them. An intelligent open minded person would read the book and then critique it. But for someone who delivered projects from scratch to completion in Dublin from 1998 – 2011, its no wonder many projects are now ready to be condemned there. He’s even wrong about my mode of transport but there you go, the incorrect assumptions and ignorance know no bounds.

        Of course he also should have known when he threw out the Nazi slur that Hitler rejected his Christian faith, and developed a huge admiration for islam. He was good mates with the mufti of Jerusalem, and regularly used to ride in open top cars waving to his Nazi fans. They both shared a lot in common regarding ideas, wiping out Jews to be precise.

        Of course my mate Joe R also doesn’t seem to know that the Serbs were persecuted by the Nazis in WWII. There was real genecide here, with the help of their Croatian pals.

        But anyway, you have a nice day there, and don’t get so sensitive about your viewing.

      • DB4545

        You better believe it. I have a relative who makes a very comfortable living selling unorthodox plastic products catering to that very market. She doesn’t however have that specific appendage nor do her target market.

        • Paul Divers

          Not surprised friend.

          I hope the said appendage has a Celtic twist and is made from locally produced materials :-)

          Better to be ultra specific.

  17. Yesterday my lawn was cut and finished and it beamed under the sunshine .So clean nothing on it and the greenery in abundance . A bird landed and another and then another .They walked around it looking busy .There was no bread or seed left out for them and still they were looking very busy . I watched .I could not tell the ages of them and it did not matter .They continued walking around .Their necks twisting sideways and stopping ………and they seemed to be listening directing their ears sideways towards the grass .

    Then they suddenly scooped …a worm….and …a second…and …a third .Where did the worms come from ? Maybe we should think like them.

    • bonbon

      Well, there is a scene in “Seven years in Tibet” where the Dalai Lama’s teacher, Harrer (Brad Pitt) attempting to make a theater was told by the locals : “These worms could all be your mother, and we cannot kill them.” Fathers, one must presume, manage to find themselves other futures. Lamas come to the rescue, and each worm is lovingly taken away, to be re-buried where they are safe from the rest of the Dalai’s building plans.

      It is no surprise occultists gravitate to such insanity. Suggest wormy thinking maybe back in Tibet, but today I expect that to be laughed out of the house!

    • Think like the early bird who gets the worm not as you imply like a worm.
      There are thousands of worms per acre busily making humus into soil. aerating it as well.
      Worms can be confused. Just go out and sit on the lawn. Pat your hand up and down and drum with your fingers. Sounds down below as if it is raining. Up pop the worms for a breather. In minutes you will have enough for a day’s fishing.

  18. bonbon

    As Obama Crumbles, More Voices Are Heard for Glass-Steagall

    The checkmate that Putin organised has opened the door. Was Obama and his ever-lovin’ Queen prepared to go to war to avoid this? Cameron did a real about turn, I am sure the Royals are not amused.

    Now to call this Glass-Steagall action “hijacking” when Obama/Bush have hijacked a plane full of politicians including Noonan et al, and are flying the entire thing right into a fiscal building, in the manner of Obama’s favorite terrorists, is missing something , would’nt ye think?

    • DB4545

      I travelled a lot in the former eastern bloc countries in the early 1980′s. I was never in any doubt who would win the cold war. But boy am I glad Putin is around today. The leadership in the West has no moral compass and seems to want to lead people to war and serfdom. Putin was on the money regarding arming people who eat the hearts of their enemies. It’s some turn of events when it becomes glaringly obvious that mainstream news media can’t hide the fact that our “leaders” seem increasingly like old style politburo puppets and Russian leaders can lecture the West with authority on morality. We need a Ron Paul/Putin double act to steer us back towards sanity.

  19. DB4545

    Bonbon you have me almost sold on the Glass-Steagall stuff but would you please go out and have a few beers and chase a few women(or men if that’s your thing). You are fixated on the GS thing. There really is more to life.

    • bonbon

      DSK firmly believed that too, the Lagarde predecessor on a binge in NY.

      Glass-Steagall does mess things up at the bordel does’nt it?

  20. DB4545

    Jesus Bonbon, Glass-Steagall again? Build a bridge a get over it.

  21. michaelcoughlan

    Hello David,

    Remember max keiser?

    Very sobering video 2nins or so.

  22. Ryu Hayabusa

    Maximillian… 500 not out. A mini-milestone!

  23. Ryu Hayabusa

    Oyez Oyez OYEZ…

    The pravda-esque propagandists in RTE have been at it again. . .

    On the Six one news yesterday at the top of the bulletin Mr Dobson exclaimed triumphantly “Ireland is out of recession!” All he was missing was his town criers hat and bell!

    The basis for this was a CSO report (also appeared in the I.T.) which showed 2nd quarter growth in GDP OF 0.4% As foreign repatriated profits had also risen in the quarter ,GNP dropped by 0.4% (which he omitted to mention!)

    This merely evened out the GDP contraction of 0.4% in Q1, plus the margin of error inherent in these figures must be allowed for.

    It begs the question why they are so quick to hail growth which is not even there.
    Technically a ‘recession’ is 3 consecutive quarters of economic contraction.

    Shouldn’t the same rationale logically be applied to assessing growth,
    i.e. 3 successive Q’s of expansion!?

    Of course this mightn’t suit their agenda.

    It gets sickening being force-fed this BS on an almost daily basis, bit like the Max Keiser analogy of the Foie-Gras Duck on the Northern French farm being force-fed grain.

  24. Adam Byrne


  25. Paul Divers


    Five Months Workfare Introduced To Train Young People To Be Apprentices

  26. 5Fingers

    Look, I ask is we somehow let things breath. No prescription. No Rules other than do not screw with others trying to breath.

    People who sail and know how to manage a spinnaker know exactly what I mean.

    • I sail. I can sail a spinnaker. General rule in sailing and trimming sheets is, “when in doubt, let it out.”

      But I am still confused so I imagine those that do not sail are just gob smacked. What exactly do you mean?

  27. If you want to retire with grace then one has to be educated to reality.

    Reading this whole news letter will be a good start.

    It would not hurt David to read it either.

    • Paul Divers

      Your reality.

      The majority can’t afford gold and silver.

      Putting up links to Gold and Silver is useless.

      Better to put up links on something practical.

  28. bonbon

    Crazy Buffett Declares the Fed “The Greatest Hedge Fund in History”.

    Buffett evidenced his terror at what is about to hit the financial system by praising George W. Bush for coming out with “the economic insight for all times,” when he said in 2008 that “if money isn’t loose enough, this sucker could go down.” He praises Bernanke, who cannot land his money helicopter anytime soon.

    How’s that for insight? Terror does drive oracles insane!

  29. bonbon

    I think DMcW maybe has seen a glint of the policies at work – but to make it a bit more clear for the befuddled (ex-) Tigers I posted aabove a very brutal expose of what is in motion right now.

    Ever hear of Blair’s N.I.C.E, or Obama’s “evidence based” healthcare? These are nothing less than useless-eater programs, today under cover of “better decisions”. This may upset the polite company here, and perhaps DMcW’s social club. Another look at the Triple Curve, and realize what a plunging physical economy means – depopulation and cutting longevity to “manageable levels”, for the masses that is. The 1% will gracefully retire, the rest will be cut off healthcare, retirement funds (look what happened to Detroit!).

  30. bonbon

    Now back to the EU, Health Care Collapse in Greece Spells Troika ‘Genocide’

    The bail-in, now official policy, tested in Cyprus on Enda’s watch, is a just a glimmer of what is intended for the entire OECD. Try “gracefully retiring” then! As testified at the 1947 trials, it was considered much easier in 1935 to start the useless-eaters program in emergency conditions. Would the collapse of even one of the Too Big to Fail, Deutsche Bank, Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, be exactly what’s expected to open that door again?

  31. ‘Growing old disgracefully: Where elderly can never afford to retire’-

    The above caption invokes the fringe economics of ‘demand and supply’.

    By extention and not straying from that expression it eventually should lead us to ‘ Resurrection Men ‘ or body snathers who would disinter the recently deceased and sell their corpses to medical schools and surgeons for dissection fuelled by speed of science research .

    Increase demand gave rise to the illicit trade in fesh cadavers and this trade was carried out by Gangs .

    In t early nineteenth century this trade prospered
    To veify this visit Glasnevin Cemetry on the north side of Dublin city and view the high walls and look out towers built to deter the bodysnatchers .

    Will stalking the dead resume again?

  32. Ryu Hayabusa

    Welcome back Adam by the by!

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