July 2012        

No other solution than repudiating this debt

If you turn on your television and watch the news or read a newspaper there appears to be a constant series of “summits” about the continuing economic crisis. We have summits of EU leaders, or G7 and G20, or bilateral meetings between Germany and France or Germany and some other country—all giving the impression that something is being done, that a solution has been found or some new policy developed to overcome the crisis, that millions of jobs will suddenly appear, or that this summit will be a turning-point, more important than the previous ones.
     But all that’s really happening is that the same individuals (mainly men) in well-manicured suits, with a battery of advisers, luxury limos, and first-class flights on a plethora of airlines—all at our expense—gather in expensive hotels that most of us wouldn’t be allowed to enter or get within a mile of.
     The only job creation strategy they have is to keep low-paid workers working in the same expensive hotels and luxury restaurants.
     We constantly hear the refrain that this EU summit or that EU meeting may come forward with some answers to the mounting, crippling debt burden now imposed on working people in the peripheral countries of the EU, including our own little piece of rock in the North Atlantic.
     Yet we continue to carry the burden, and that burden will only get heavier and heavier. By the end of June the Government will have put €67.8 billion (your money) into bank recapitalisation, just to keep their doors open.
     We have squandered the national pension fund.
National pension fund
2008:€21.2 billion
2012:€5.8 billion
Squandered:€15.4 billion

2008:6.3 per cent
2012:14.5 per cent
—a jump of 8.2 points

40,500per year
3,330per month
111per day
5people per hour
—a rate not seen since the Great Famine of the 1840s

     In one year alone the Irish state paid more than €10 billion to bondholders. In the last week of June the present Government paid €1.1 billion to four unsecured and unguaranteed bondholders, two from Irish Nationwide and two from Anglo-Irish.
     Our own internal Troika of Fine Gael, the Labour Party and Fianna Fáil have been telling us that we must pay this debt, and that it can be paid by a combination of massive cuts in public spending and then through the economy growing—that the economy would grow by such and such a percentage per year (3 to 4 per cent in 2013).
     They haven’t got a hope in hell of doing that. So if the economy is not growing, the only other option is to cut deeper and deeper into public spending and to hand more of our money over to foreign bankers.
     The people of Iceland are still refusing to pay the private bank debt.
     There is simply no other solution than repudiating this debt. But to do that we need a progressive Government that would protect the people and their interests, putting the people first:
• looking for alternative sources of money (capital) internationally, such as “sovereign wealth funds” (what these are will be explained in the next issue),
• taking control of our rich natural resources,
• adopting an economic plan to use these resources in a sustainable way,
• increasing taxes on the rich,
• introducing greater democracy for working people, from the shop floor to the Government table.
     The pain now being inflicted on the people is to ensure that those on top remain on top. If sacrifices are to be made, let it be for a better Ireland: a different, more just and equal Ireland.
     But then, that’s not what the Irish elite would ever allow. We need to take what they will not give.
     Keep your hands on your wages and your eye on the prize of a better way forward and a better future.

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