|Misfortune of the Irish|
The Irish government’s “Recovery Plan” is a recipe for poverty, misery and social crisis on a massive scale. It is also a recipe for “significant civil unrest“, according to a warning from a prominent Irish trade union leader.
Dictated by the International Monetary Fund and the European Union in return for an €85 billion loan, the Plan will see the equivalent of €20 per week taken from the average person, although as usual the poorest will be hardest hit.
25,000 public sector job losses are scheduled over the next four years, with €2.8bn “savings” in welfare also envisaged. The minimum wage will be cut by one euro an hour, leaving the rate at €7.65, and VAT will increase by three per cent over the period. The extremely low rate of corporation tax – credited with fuelling the “Celtic Tiger” growth of the 1990s and early 2000s – will remain. Finance Minister Brian Lenehan even told the banks that the state pension fund would be used to bail them out, should that prove necessary. There are fears that Allied Irish and Bank of Ireland might soon become so-called “zombie banks” – financially insolvent but ‘undead’ due to government money.
Taken in total, the latest phase of Irish cuts exceeds the per capita impact of George Osbourne’s recent Comprehensive Spending Review in the UK. However, these Irish cuts double the agony piled on by previous cuts made since the financial crisis began in 2007.
Despite all these enormous sacrifices to the great god Mammon, European financial markets have taken a further slide, with investors expressing doubts that even the measures announced yesterday will be enough to prevent the Irish government from defaulting on its loans. Perhaps ironically, by doing this they are pushing up the cost of Ireland’s loans, and the country’s credit rating was downgraded overnight. Lenders also feel that the Irish government’s figures are based on over-optimistic economic growth projections (1.75 percent in 2011, 3.25 percent in 2012, 3.00 percent in 2013 and 2.75 percent in 2014).
A layer of parasitical financial capital is currently turning its attention from one country to another (Greece, Ireland, Portugal? Spain? UK?), betting against the success of the economy, reaping the rewards as it sinks under their weight, and then demanding slashing cuts in government spending in return for loans. Having become global, the capitalist economy is now in a highly profitable tailspin – profitable, that is, for a tiny elite. Others might call it a ‘depression’.
David Begg, head of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, disputes the claim from Eamon Devoy of the Technical Engineering and Electrical Union, that “we are on the brink of significant civil unrest in this country, the like of which has not been witnessed in this jurisdiction for decades”. Begg remains publicly confident that his trade union bureaucracy can curb workers’ anger, stating that: “It’s not the case that people think the whole thing is inevitable, it’s simply that they’re much more law abiding people who don’t want a revolution,”
Begg and the rest of the Irish trade union bureaucracy have already tied Irish state workers into a no strike agreement, in the so-called ‘Croke Park Agreement‘ at the time of the previous cuts round. If Croke Park stands, there will be no official avenues for letting off steam, as there were during the recent Greek, French, and Portuguese one day general strikes. An eruption of dissent is therefore inevitable.