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01 December 2010 @ 03:54 pm
How we got here isn’t important.  

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.


(x-posted from the essential kit)
Geek of Weird Shitgows on December 1st, 2010 03:57 pm (UTC)
Of course how we got here is important.

You're a history major. Of course you're going to say that. ;P

(Doesn't mean you're not right, of course. As one history major to another, and all. *wink*)
hawkwing_lb on December 1st, 2010 04:33 pm (UTC)
It makes me sick. Absolutely sick.
desperancedesperance on December 1st, 2010 05:44 pm (UTC)
We know that those who forget their history are condemned to repeat it. What happens to those who deliberately ignore - or, worse, try to expunge - their history? There's gotta be something.
kitmizkit on December 2nd, 2010 08:40 am (UTC)
They go to Joss Whedon's special hell?
martyn44martyn44 on December 1st, 2010 05:49 pm (UTC)
Look at the boards of the oil companies, the banks, the property developers. Now look at the membership of the government. Brothers and cousins and sisters and aunts.

Remember the words of the Blessed Margaret. The rich must be rewarded (so they may permit more of the too much that is not enough for them to trickle down to the rest of us)

And in a decade's time, when we have dug ourselves out of this pit, the 'finance industry' will find another way to break the economy and we'll all have to bail them out again.
TuftEars: WTFtuftears on December 1st, 2010 06:41 pm (UTC)
Gah. That is a terrible, terrible work program. o_o
mayakdamayakda on December 1st, 2010 08:02 pm (UTC)
Yup. It's pretty much catfood all around here too except for the rich.
Kari Sperringla_marquise_de_ on December 1st, 2010 08:09 pm (UTC)
There will never be any sense in politics as long as politicians continue to be drawn from or aspire to the wealthy classes. We have the same problem here, and our new tory masters are making it worse.
kitmizkit on December 2nd, 2010 08:40 am (UTC)
I'm pretty fond of the (Heinlein, though no doubt many others have espoused it) idea that serving in government should be like jury duty: you are selected and must serve two or four or six years whether you like it or not, and then you're out again unless your name happens to come up a second time. Which in a population of 40 or 60 or 250 million probably isn't very likely.
Chrisberchrisber on December 2nd, 2010 06:22 pm (UTC)
I think Arthur C. Clarke wrote in one of his novels that the people you want in the government are those who don't want to be there, but once picked, will do a good job in hopes of being let off early.
Janne: Yzma Now what?janne on December 1st, 2010 09:33 pm (UTC)
I do feel sort of sorry for the government(s), too -- I doubt a solution exists which would not have at least a significant fraction of the population gnashing their teeth.

If memory serves, there was a major bank that went belly up over here a decade or two ago. Government took over the bank so people didn't loose their deposits -- but also told all stockholders that the value of their stock was now permanently zero. Seems like the local banks have been veeeery careful in their management since then, which is good, but there were also a lot of sad stories back then about old people who had invested their life savings in bank stocks and such. Just can't win...
kitmizkit on December 2nd, 2010 08:38 am (UTC)
I don't feel particularly sorry for the governments. I think the segment of the population they're concerned with are the very wealthy, and there's no pretending that that's a *significant* fraction of the population. It's a miniscule one.

In an ideal society it wouldn't matter if the banks went tits up and the old people lost their pensions and life savings, because in a society that made any kind of sense there would be generous and practical government support for the aged, the young, and the in between. And that's not impossible by any stretch of the imagination, but so long as 1% holds 90% of the wealthy, it's never going to happen. We live in a broken system--and from what I can tell, Norway is the just about the *least* broken example of the system there is.
Jannejanne on December 2nd, 2010 02:20 pm (UTC)
True -- would be more difficult to do something similar in a country where the same old couple would end up on the street after loosing their life savings, rather than have to cut back on vacations and gifts to the grandchildren. When everybody has a fairly decent safety net independent of their individual fortunes it's easier to impose restrictions on wealth. It's so strange to read about people fighting grimly *against* safety nets -- nationalised healthcare comes to mind. 0.o. I'm glad to be living where I am, indeed. Hope Ireland manages to pull it together, too.
Grand High Simiansimianpower on December 2nd, 2010 08:31 am (UTC)
Don't worry, it's not just Ireland. The U.S. will be right there with ya in another 5 years or so. Obama's been bought and paid for just like Shrub was. Either that or he's a completely ineffectual leader, which is saying the same thing when Congress is run by the billionaires.
kitmizkit on December 2nd, 2010 08:35 am (UTC)
Oh, I know it's not just Ireland. There aren't a whole lot of Western societies to which it doesn't apply, really. Even the ones that aren't undergoing economic collapse have a hideously out of whack distribution of wealth (so, for that matter, do developing countries) and the only way I can see to do anything about it at all is to stage, and stick with, massive general strikes. The Teamsters could break America in less than a week, if they felt like it. This would be the perfect time of year to do it, too--except media coverage, being owned by big business, would play it as these selfish bastards ruining our childrens' Christmas, rather than an increasingly desperate people trying to reign in a devastatingly broken system.
Randomnessr_ness on December 2nd, 2010 02:57 pm (UTC)
First: Don't know if you've seen this, but Kevin O'Rourke posted Prof. Barry Eichengreen's opinion piece in The Irish Economy blog yesterday.

Second: Elections are coming. They might even make a difference.