Tag Archives: Ireland

Ella

 

Ella was born on the 31st March, in Germany. She shares her birthday with Henry II of France, Rene Descartes and Olli Rehn. She has a claim for citizenship of Australia, Austria, Germany, Ireland. She could live and work in over thirty countries, without impediment.

She has relatives in Germany, China, Australia, Austria, England, Ireland, Sweden, Switzerland, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Angola. She has close personal connections in another ten countries.

She will likely speak four or five languages, have friends and colleagues spread throughout the world. She can expect to travel widely and have the benefits of a liberal democratic upbringing. She will face the perils of social unrest, health issues, personal problems, and Acts of God, but she will be well equipped for these, having many personal, family and governmental resources to assist her.

Ella

Ella

Excepting war and plague, she will have a very good chance of living to the 22nd century, when her grandparent’s youth will have slipped from Modern to Ancient History. Her life will be measured, calibrated, photographed and recorded in every moment. Distance will not impede her communications, and location will not define her. Privacy and solitude will be art forms for her.

She already carries the heavy responsibility of the promise that we as a society vest in her. The promise of a brighter future and a better world.

The world ahead will be exciting, challenging ever-changing and totally unpredictable. The rapid and accelerating societal changes of the last twenty years will be multiplied exponentially. The society she will grow old in would be as strange to us, as New York would be to Amazonian Indians.

But there will be stability as well. While we cannot fathom the technological, medical or societal changes to come, we can see in retrospect that the spirit of humanity, personal values and the basis of personal relationships have not changed over the centuries, and are unlikely to in the future.

What we have to hope for and strive for is a society that bases it’s policies on human values, and not on material or totalitarian values. What she needs is a society that will allow her freedom, and the ability to achieve her potential. These are values held as self-evident in the American Constitution, but realised in their fullest in Europe today.

This is a Europe that strikes the balance between materialism and liberalism. A Europe that allows material entrepreneurship without oppressing personal freedoms. A Europe that declares high aspirations, and strives to achieve them. A Europe that defines itself in the 21st Century by aligning itself constantly with democratic ideals and rejecting oligarchic values, wherever they are found.

Ella is a child of Europe. She represents the best of what we are as a continent, and as a society. She represents pan-nationalism, tolerance, social justice and personal freedom. She represents that highest of emotions that the human spirit can aspire to – hope for the future.

 

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Beneath Contempt

The Cause Of all Our Problems - Anglo Irish Bank

The Cause Of all Our Problems – Anglo Irish Bank (Photo credit: infomatique)

I find it seldom that I appreciate Angela Merkel’s utterances, though I do have a certain admiration for her. She has too much of an eye on her own electorate to be an effective European Leader, and I think she has largely abandoned any ambition of being an Adenauer or a Kohl. Perhaps there is no longer an agenda of greatness attached to leading what has become a failed project, or at least, a difficult cul de sac.

However I did agree with her last week when she said she had nothing but contempt for the Irish bankers from the failed Anglo Irish Bank, recorded during the financial crisis, singing “Deutschland über ales” after persuading the Irish Government to underwrite the banks. Far more objectionable was their trite and scandalous treatment of the Irish tax payer. Their contempt for the Government and the Financial Regulator, neither of whom, to be fair, appeared to demonstrate anything resembling competence during the entire financial crisis, was manifest in these recordings.

For many years now, the beleaguered Irish tax payer has accepted passively, the incompetence of our Government, and our bankers, but no-one could have reasonably guessed how odious they really were. Listening to these tapes exposes the cesspit of their attitudes and behaviour.

It is difficult to believe that these bankers are not in jail, or that not one of them has been put on trial five years after Bernie Madoff, for instance, went to jail in the US. It is even more difficult to believe, that this Anglo Irish Bank is the stable where NAMA (National Asset Management Agency – Ireland’s “bad bank) and the IRBC (Irish Banking Resolution Commission – the clean up operation for Anglo Irish Bank) recruited many of their own staff. The very staff who ran the country into the ground are tasked to clean up the mess.

But it gets worse. The Irish Government recently proudly announced the “creation of 800 new jobs” in Capita, whose “Financial management function” includes debt collection and restructuring. This new financial industry will involve the closure and receivership of many an Irish firm. Guess where the staff are being recruited from? Rumour has it that they will come from the recently closed IRBC.

So the very people who destroyed Ireland, are not just part of the solution, but are to be the agents of the tidal wave of misery and bankruptcy that is about to overtake the ordinary citizens of Ireland, as the remaining banks try to recapitalize. These are the new Jobs announced by the Irish Government.

Yes Angela, ‘contempt’ is a good word for what they deserve. In Ireland it is only a word however, and the reality is that ordinary citizens are under the cosh, and the very people who showed such contempt for the Irish people, are not in jail, as you would expect, but are being recruited to become the carpetbaggers sifting through the wreckage, to extract blood from the corpse!

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George Soros

George Soros, billionaire

George Soros, billionaire (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One can almost get encouraged when wise council abounds. However wise council is ignored, and partisan political interests prevail. Germans can see no further than their forthcoming elections, and are busy claiming the high ground as the tsunami of European Disintegration approaches. To quote Yeats “the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity”. The crisis becomes more acute by the day, and the political inertia seems to deepen.

George Soros, has put forward a succinct analysis of the situation in The Guardian. He is saying what anyone with a brain has been saying since Cyprus. He has, however, put his mind to finding good constructs for the remedy of the situation. His options are the issuance of Eurobonds, or alternatively Germany leaving the Euro. Again, this is the choice between integration and dissolution, which has been a theme here at Paddyspiigs.

If Germany did leave the Euro, who else would go with them,- Austria? Denmark? Holland? This would lead to a two speed Europe with the separation of the Northern nations from the indebted nations. A natural consequence of the current political atmosphere. This is a solution that totally ignores the political, social, and strategic aims of the European Union. It would be a sad message to send out to the world at large.

Soros’s analysis does however make a significant contribution to the current debate. Hopefully someone will listen to him!

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That Man Again – MICHAEL D HIGGINS Speaks out again

English: Herman Van Rompuy, President of the E...

English: Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, at the press conference about the European Union during the 37th G8 summit in Deauville, France. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Michael D. Higgins: An Auld President.

Michael D. Higgins: An Auld President. (Photo credit: David Conch Condon)

TWO PRESIDENTS IN ONE DAY

– SOMETHING MUST BE HAPPENING!

The President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins, has done it again. He has broken the stodgy Presidential Protocols and expanded on his previously reported speech to the European Parliament in an interview he gave to the Financial Times, which has also complimented him in a very supportive Editorial.

“There is a real problem in what was assumed to be a single hegemonic model… The unemployment profile in Greece is different from the unemployment profile in Ireland. You need a pluralism of approaches… We have 26m people unemployed… There are 112m at risk of poverty, a contraction in investment and falling demand.”

Herman Van Rompuy , President of the European Union, has  also spoken out today, calling for fiscal stimulus, and inferring the great unmentionable (that anyone with two Betz cells knows now to be the truth), that this

Austerity Isn’t Working.

How many people have to hear this? The Future that the austeritocrats are playing with is yours, and they’re just not listening. I do not oppose austerity because I feel people shouldn’t pay back their debts. I oppose it for the exact opposite reason. I oppose it because the only way anyone will be able to pay back anything is if there is a viable economy, and we can’t have that if we are destroying the economy day-in and day-out, by everything Governments are doing. We have had five years of this now, and it is getting worse and worse. This is not the Europe that was ever envisaged by the founding fathers. It is time to call a halt. It is so heartening to hear reasonable men stand up, for a change.

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Ivory Towers and Other Fantasies

As someone who’s appreciation of economics has absolutely no formal basis, I find the current debate about the Rogoff-Reinhart controversy quite surreal. Here are all these economists on both sides of the argument, discussing the relative merits of one form of analysis, versus another, and minimising or exaggerating the effects of a spreadsheet error. This issue is not an abstract philosophical discourse. The issue of how we view our society is of fundamental importance to every person in the world. Trust in our advisors is particularly relevant to Western democracies surviving. We have moved beyond the base economics, and we are talking about the shape of the Western liberal tradition. Over the last ten years or so, the rudder of Western Society has been firmly in the hands of the austerity driven economists, who, via the World Bank, via the ECB and via the Troika in Europe, have not only had the hegemony of policy, but also have esposed a monopoly on knowledge about the so called remedies for recovery. These policies have prevailed while 27 million people are unemployed in the E.U., and the wealth of middle class Europeans and Americans has dissipated.

Wile E. Coyote Business Card .. Genius .. Have...

Wile E. Coyote Business Card .. Genius .. Have Brain Will Travel .. Reverend Bill Proctor “stuck in Atlanta” (July 02, 2011) …item 4.. Comments are posted from viewers – We are not his preferred constituents (Feb 9, 2012 at 01:54 PM) … (Photo credit: marsmet523)

These policies bear no criticism. In the case of Ireland, this diminutive analysis portrays the entire Irish population as squanderers whose spendthrift ways are deserving of moral opprobrium and of the punitive austerity imposed as a remedy on the entire population. The fact that the gross excesses were limited to a minute proportion of the population, and there were many non-Irish players, including foreign banks with their snouts in the trough, does not seem to influence the Troika or the arbiters of the new order. The fact that much of the so called “Irish” debt was based in other countries, and not truly “Irish” in any real sense of the word, offers no respite. The undisputed fact that the recklessness of the banks contributed to the catastrophe, fails to provide any relief for the indentured population. Paradoxically, the only element of the population that is not suffering are the bankers, who continue their gluttony of bonuses and high salaries, while acting as the very agencies that are imposing penury on the general population.

So back to the debate over the R-R mistakes/omissions or whatever. The problem for me, an ordinary Joe, is not the semantics of the derivative implications of the subtle analysis that was presented. It was not the worry about the extrapolations of high financial equations. It was not even the arithmetic mistake that was made. It was however the sheer clumsiness, the appalling arbitrariness and the overwhelming subjective nature of the analysis that was most frightening. In my naivety, in my ignorance, I had always thought that economists dealt with the real economy. I considered that these people with their magic formulae, their alchemical spells, could conjure up, if not a view of the future, at least an understanding of the past. But oh! I was woefully wrong. The people who lay the fabric for the agenda of the rich and powerful, don’t do any of that. They decide for arbitrary reasons, to include or exclude countries from their analysis, they don’t bother to check for simple mathematical errors. They then defend themselves against criticism by saying that they were only small errors.

My problem, as a punter, is how the hell can I know what any of their prognostications mean. In fact, how can anyone know? I truly do not know anything of the mathematical formulae required to analyse economies. I know little of the nuances of Keynesian planning, though I understand enough to know that the wisdom of his thinking has been ignored in order to save the oligarchy of the financial elite.

What I do know is this – that the last five years have seen the greatest transfer of public wealth into private hands in the history if Western Society, the indenture of the whole population of the PIIGS countries, the decimation of the middle class, the dismantling of social services and the abolition of democracy in debt burdened nations. The banks have managed to privatise their profits and socialise their losses. Nations have not only lost the ability to decide on their own Government programs, but have had external programs imposed on them.

So what the nub of the problem for the man in the street is that the basis for all these austerity driven policies is not an analysis of tried and trusted methods of overcoming the debt crisis but rather the exact opposite. These programs are not only counter-sense, but they are an exact opposite of the methods that we have learned about dealing with recessions/depressions before. They are an attempt to create growth by shutting down economies. To raise taxes by strangling industry. To reduce social spending by increasing dependency. They fly in the face of the manifest truisms that you cannot create growth without a functioning economy, you can’t have an economy without cash flow, and you cannot have cash flow when you sacrifice individual effort in order to prop up failed financial institutions.

These counter-sense economic policies play straight into the neo-Weberian view of the world that economic collapse has a quasi-moral dimension to it, and that the nations who profited most by the European experiment in the terms of growth and centralisation of wealth are somehow on a higher plane than the peripheral economies that have floundered. Whatever truth there is in the supposition that the peripheal countries screwed up their economies independently of the centre (another manifest fantasy), the cure has nothing to do with the complaint. The cure is designed to tie those peripheral countries into a centralised low-inflation stangnant austerity that has nothing to do with stimulating growth. It has everything to do with economic dependency and indenture.

economics

economics (credit: Sean MacEntee)

This whole debate is not about a tweeking of an “Econ 101” freshman project. These data were presented as scientific fact, and a quick revision is not the solution. The basis of the austerity philosophy as applied to Europe is nationalist, pseudo racist, and highly questionable. It relies for intellectual legitimacy on the highly questionable views of the likes of Rogoff and Reinhart. So when you question how such philosophies have contributed to putting twenty seven million people out of work, you have to throw up when you find out that the whole basis of these concepts is faulty. Not only are the analyses subjective, arbitrary and variable, but you also find out that even the basic arithmetic is wrong. Closed prejudiced minds. Sloppy work, and sloppy thinking.

Reinhart and Rogoff – Responding to Our Critics – NYTimes.com

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Pressure, Pressure – 13 out of 25 in the Bold Corner.

English: Italian cannons in Ljubljana

English: Italian cannons in Ljubljana (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The last couple of weeks have seen a breather from the Cyprus Crisis, but the pressure keeps building. Portugal’s constitutional Court have thrown a spanner in the works of THE AUSTERITOCRATS, by ruling against €1.5bn budgetary measures. Portugal’s finance minister has blocked all capital spending as a result. Portugal’s government may fall, leading to further instability, and the formation of another Coalition. The Irish Trade Unions have given the two fingers to more austerity, paving the way for industrial unrest, public service cutbacks and a division between the state sector demands and the ability of the taxpayer to fund it. The downward social spiral continues.

E.U. Commissioner Oli Rehn has issued a warning about Spain and Slovenia, suggesting they are not meeting their targets in the austerity drive, and their Banks are failing. The Slovenian Government, which failed to privatize the banks, after the fall of communism may well have underestimated the cost to underwrite them, and confidence is ebbing. Although the Slovenian situation is but a dot on the landscape compared to the Irish situation, the mood, statements, reassurances have a familiar tone to them. The €70 Billion deficit in a country of 2 million people is slightly better than the Irish €190 Billion for four million people.

Aside – isn’t it wonderful the way the word “Billion” just rolls off your tongue these days, when ten years ago no-one had heard of it, and a million was a lot of money!! 
 
Further aside –  France’s War Debt to the US after the Second World War was about $2.8 Billion (about €2.15 Billion) – Ireland could wage 88 world wars for the money we owe – at least we could if all our young people hadn’t emigrated already leaving a sorry bunch of old farts to take up the cause!.

Sorry – Back to the main story – The Slovenian economy is well beyond my poor brain, but I do recognize another canary when I see one! Slovenia may be the next canary in the cage. How will the troika deal with the next crisis? Will we find out whether Cyprus was indeed a special case in how Ljubljana fares?

Ireland may receive extra time to repay its loans, according to opinions around Dublin. This is a rare bit of good news for the beleaguered island. It was celebrated like we had just won the Eurovision, with smiling faces and congratulatory handshakes. The fact that the Irish taxpayers still have to carry the full responsibility of the international lending disaster that took place in this country, still seems to be conveniently ignored by the powers that be. A debt that has left every man, woman and child in the country owing €50,000 (a goodly sum for a baby, or an nanogenarian!) to bail out speculators, who must have felt all their Christmases had come at once. A second bit of good news, that was celebrated with fanfare, was the downward projection of the Government deficit projection for 2015, to €2 Billion from €3 Billion. With progress like this we should exit the crisis in the year 2202 A.D.!!

Its not only the laggards that have been admonished this week however, the EU has warned that no less than13 countries in the union, including France, the Netherlands and Belgium need to take urgent action to reform their economies. 

I’ll post something more upbeat next – Promise!

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