February 2012        

Economic policy is “too important” for voters to have a say

As democrats face into a struggle against two extremely dangerous EU treaties designed to perpetuate austerity under a cloak of “fiscal responsibility” and “solidarity,” it is important to remember just how undemocratic the EU project really is.
     The Fiscal Austerity Treaty for the euro zone, which the Kenny-Gilmore Government is now proposing to push through without a referendum, would make “balanced budget targets” mandatory for all states that use the euro and in effect would put Irish budgets under permanent and detailed euro-zone supervision.
     The “solidarity” will be by way of the European Stability Mechanism Treaty, which formally subordinates Ireland’s interests to those of “the stability of the euro area as a whole” and recognises no treaty limits as regards the “strict conditionality” that can be imposed on recipients of that “solidarity” by way of financial bail-outs from the permanent ESM Fund.
     And just to add insult to injury, the state is required to contribute some €11 billion in paid-up and callable capital and guarantees once the fund is set up later this year.
     Democracy, EU style, allows for the formal trappings of clean elections: political parties with competing manifestos contesting a ballot free of intimidation are all still there, but someone else has decided in advance what the result will be. It’s not the voters that are intimidated any more: it’s the parties that are.
     Ireland, Portugal and Greece are just three EU countries where this post-political phenomenon has materialised; but committed democrats throughout the European Union should wonder which country is next. This has not happened by putsch or coup d’état, at least not one involving any guns or tanks. Yet a junta has installed itself nonetheless, a junta of “experts,” “technocrats,” those educated in the knowledge of “what needs to be done.”
     These are the experts who believe that fiscal policy—that is to say, almost all government endeavours involved in spending money that touch most citizens, apart from home affairs and foreign policy—is “too important” for voters to have a say over, in the words of Jean-Claude Juncker, prime minister of Luxembourg, and would be better agreed in “dark, secret debates.”
     They rule from a moveable, intangible place. Sometimes the orders seem to come from Brussels, sometimes from Frankfurt or Berlin, sometimes from a castle in Luxembourg, or maybe just via a dinner-time teleconference.
     But wherever these masters of the EU universe happen to be hovering at any particular moment, the refrain in effect is the same: “Of course there is no question that you are still allowed to vote however you like. Nevertheless, the policies absolutely cannot change, even if the government does.”
     What sovereign government can describe itself as such if this most central of powers is taken away? The cancer of contempt by the European elite for parliamentary accountability, for some two hundred years of the principles of responsible government, is becoming ever more brazen.
     The Irish state has been forced by the EU and IMF to establish a Fiscal Advisory Council, composed of outside “fiscal referees.” A number of other EU member-states were ordered by the European Commission, as part of the new “European semester” system, to create their own fiscal councils.
     The whole point is to take fiscal policy out of the political arena. It is also clear that EU leaders are now intent on surgically removing fiscal policy from the realm of democracy, even if they haven’t yet quite agreed on how it should happen.
     Just as a decade ago it became the intellectual fashion to remove monetary policy from the democratic realm, because “the market demanded it,” today it is the fashion to argue that voters are too stupid to know what is fiscally best for them. Better to leave such decisions to “experts,” “technocrats,” who know what the markets demand.
     But who are these experts? Are they really free from politics and ideology, or are they actually the same pro-free-market supplicants who managed our economies into the worst crisis since the 1930s?
     Who will rule the New Europe? European bankers and former Goldman Sachs bigwigs.
     The president of the European Central Bank is Mario Draghi. He was vice-chairman and managing director of Goldman Sachs International and a member of the Goldman Sachs Management Committee. He was also Italian executive director of the World Bank, governor of the Bank of Italy, a member of the Governing Council of the European Central Bank, a member of the Board of Directors of the Bank for International Settlements, a member of the Boards of Governors of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the Asian Development Bank, and chairman of the Financial Stability Board.
     Obviously, Draghi is going to protect the power of bankers.
     Italy’s prime minister, Mario Monti—who was appointed, not elected—was a member of the Goldman Sachs Board of International Advisers. He was appointed to the European Commission, one of the governing organisations of the EU.
     He is European chairman of the Trilateral Commission, an American organisation that advances US hegemony over the world. He is also a member of the Bilderberg Group and a founding member of the Spinelli Group, an organisation created in September 2010 to facilitate integration within the European Union.
     Just as an unelected banker was installed as prime minister of Italy, an unelected banker was installed as prime minister of Greece. Obviously they are intended to produce the bankers’ solution to the sovereign debt crisis.
     Greece’s appointed prime minister, Loukás Papadímos, was governor of the Bank of Greece. From 2002 to 2010 he was vice-president of the European Central Bank. He also is a member of America’s Trilateral Commission.
     Jacques Delors, a founder of the European Union, promised the British Trade Union Congress back in 1988 that the European Commission would require governments to introduce pro-labour legislation. Instead we find the banker-controlled European Commission demanding that European labour bail out the private banks by accepting lower pay, fewer social services, and a later retirement.

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