The Irish government, which has just given up all pretense of sovereignty by acceeding to a prohibitively-interest-rated “bailout” loan from the European Central Bank, International Monetary Fund and the European Union and by agreeing that all financial decisions will be passed through the EU before they’re finalized, has been insisting that how we got here (by guaranteeing investment returns to the very wealthy, which, I’m pretty sure, is the antithesis of how investing works; the whole gamble is that there *is* no guarantee) isn’t important, and that it is in fact bad for the country to comment on how we got here or to comment on the utter fucked-upedness which is the Irish free state and economy, and that we must look forward. If we look forward, then all of this will be behind us and the economy will magically grow 2.75% a year (the number they have stipulated as necessary to repay the ursury interest rates) and it will be business as usual.
This is, in my ever, ever, ever so humble opinion, a lot like saying, “Tomorrow I will wake up thin and will henceforth be fat no more. I shall continue to eat Haagen Daas chocolate, pralines and caramel ice cream*, fail to exercise, and generally continue in precisely the same manner I have been doing, but from now on, that will not make me gain weight.”
Of course how we got here is important. It was important in 1929 and it’s important in 2010–and the reason we’re where we are, internationally and nationally, is because the lessons of 1929 and the Great Depression were swept aside in the name of the rich growing richer.
I do not know, in the face of governments which refuse to act in the name of the people by taking the money from the rich and redistributing it to the other 99% of the population, how this is to be dealt with. I do not know how to change things locally, nationally or internationally. I also do not know, or understand, why not just the Irish people but the people of all countries in economic difficulties do not rise up, stop work, and hold their governments hostage with strikes until something is done.
Because I do know pretending nothing is wrong is not the solution. I certainly know taxing the people who make minimum wage is not the solution, nor is cutting the minimum wage. Nor is creating a work program where teachers who have been laid off are permitted to work for free to keep their hand in the game (seriously, that’s a program being offered here. They’re allowed to work up to 40 hours a week, 9 months a year. For free. Isn’t that generous? No, wait, that’s…there’s a word for it. Gimme a minute, it’ll come to me. Oh yeah, that’s slave labor.) I know that considering the drop in welfare recepients a sign of economic recovery–nevermind that the number has dropped because sixty thousand people have emigrated–is not the right attitude. I know failing to tax the oil and gas companies, and offering absurdly low corporate tax rates while nickeling and diming the poor with water taxes, property taxes, and pension levies is not going to get us out of this situation.
*BEST. ICE CREAM. *EVER!*(x-posted from the essential kit)