October 2011        

Capitalists doing okay from NAMA

From where we stand, it is clear that ordinary Irish citizens face a future of austerity, with reduced living standards and the devaluation or total loss of what little savings they possess. But it seems that many of the developers and speculators who caused the problems will continue to get by.
     For it is the nature of capitalism that the poor always pay for the sins of the rich. And nowhere is this clearer than in the austerity measures being forced on the ordinary citizen as they are made to pay the odious debt incurred by the bankers, developers and speculators and their parasitic hangers-on.
     Day after day the news is of more cut-backs, stealth taxes and curtailment of essential services while the opinion-shapers in the media churn out a stream of bias and blatant lies directed at scapegoating the weak in society to justify further attacks on the basic right to human decency and a decent standard of living. Even life itself is on the line as the sick are put at risk as a result of savage cuts.
     Meanwhile those who ran up this odious debt stand like vultures in the wings, waiting to pick over the carnage and begin again the process of exploitation, profit-making, and accumulation. They are moving back to work, aided and abetted by their Government, acting in their interests. And nowhere is this more blatant than in the case of the NAMA boys.
     Many of these developers transferred substantial sums abroad before the tent came tumbling down. Others transferred houses, apartments and large sums of money to wives or children—anywhere beyond the reach of the liquidator.
     The property developer Bernard McNamara, who has huge debts, transferred his assets to his wife in September 2009. He is now in the Middle East, employed as a property consultant!
     And the developer Seán Dunne and his wife, Gayle Killilea, just manage to scrape by as they plan their next big project. In December 2008—a year before NAMA—Dunne transferred his interest in a hugely valuable land bank on the Goatstown Road to his wife. She now controls two separate American property firms that were first set up in her husband’s name. In a recent statement she said that her personal and financial affairs in the United States were not a matter of public interest.
     Another developer, Johnny Rohan, owes NAMA more than €700 million—but his company, Treasury Holdings, is charging the state €725 million to run the new Convention Centre over the next twenty-five years.
     Other NAMA developers are being allowed to draw salaries of up to €200,000 a year in order to secure their co-operation with the agency. The chairperson of NAMA, Frank Daly, has defended the policy, saying, “They are the people who know the business.” Indeed NAMA has employed many of them as portfolio managers, flogging their former assets.
     And NAMA has admitted that developers were able to join in profit-sharing arrangements with the agency. So we have the parasitic speculators and developers further enriching themselves by means of hand-outs from NAMA. It’s all in the national interest.
     These are the “risk-takers” on whom the future of Irish capitalism depends. And on stand-by are the solicitors and auctioneers—the bulwarks of Fine Gael—waiting for their next commission.
     Meanwhile those of us who are in negative equity, have a young family and have poor job prospects face an uncertain future under capitalism. Those of us who are homeless face lives of absolute despair.
     It is in circumstances like this that, to quote one critic, “we are being sucked into the logic and mindset of those who have created the problem. We are being sold the notion that those who are at the heart of creating the mess can now solve it.”
     As communists we reject such dangerous nonsense. For “we are not concerned about protecting the interests of capital but protecting the interests of working people, to harness and concentrate capital under democratic control, to develop state-owned and democratically controlled industries based on the skill and resources of our country and our people. This is diametrically opposite to what is being proposed in NAMA, which is a strategy to protect private owners and controllers of capital.”

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