July 2012        

“Plan B” poses no challenge to the established orthodoxy

At the end of June, “Claiming Our Future” launched Plan B to great fanfare. Whose future they are claiming is not clear, but one thing is certain: it was nothing but a damp squib.
     The main thrust of their plan is an initiative for employment creation of €15 billion over five years. This would be financed by the state’s cash reserves, just over €5 billion of what’s left of the National Pension Reserve Fund topped up by private pension funds. They want a National Strategic Investment Bank, and demand that the bankrupt AIB should also invest in this strategic employment initiative. They believe funds can be secured from the European Investment Bank, also from the EU Structural and Social Funds.
     The AIB, like other Irish banks, will most probably require further injections of public money to keep the doors open.
     They fail to explain how this stimulus package would create employment. Would these be real jobs, or more schemes running community services on the cheap? They also fail to state whether this would be state-led development or further subsidies to private companies and the private sector.
     We know from recent experience that big business and the monopoly banks have simply pocketed the money thrown into “stimulus packages,” “quantitative easing,” or “bank recapitalisation.”
     The private sector in Ireland has never been able to create enough jobs, and the state’s role has always been reduced to bolstering the private sector, a feeding-trough for the private sector to gorge themselves from the public purse.
     It would be very naïve to think that the European Union will give us more money through various structural funds etc. while at the same time demanding its pound of flesh and that we pay back all money owed to German and French banks.
     The glaring hole is the private corporate debt dumped on our people by the Irish government under the direction and guidance of the EU. There is no acknowledgement of the massive natural wealth now being handed over to transnational corporations or natural resources being plundered to enrich the few.
     There is an acknowledgement of the stranglehold that the EU has over our country and that membership of the euro needs to be revisited. But there is no questioning the logic of austerity: they appear simply to want some “left” austerity scheme, with a few bells and whistles tagged on called a stimulus package. They accept the anti-democratic logic that the “markets” are the determining factor, rather than the people.
     Plan B poses no challenge to the established orthodoxy, whether economic, political, or cultural, and its essential anti-democratic core. It is just Plan A reheated and given a lick of social policy claptrap.

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