Hi and welcome back! Would you believe it is a year since I penned my last article? I hope you find it both interesting and informative. Comments (and Shares!) are very welcome.
Last week, I had the pleasure of visiting the Greek island of Rhodes. Through the power of Facebook, I had arranged to meet up with a local journalist & guide Lola Fontain, who offered to show me around the island and discuss the effects of the economic collapse.
On the surface the Greek islands look just like they always have, stunningly beautiful, very peaceful and tranquil. But when you scratch beneath the surface it becomes very obvious that things are not as they seem. The austerity measures the Greek government had imposed have caused untold hardship to the 120,000 people who live on Rhodes. The average public servants salary is now around €300 per month. Young people are taking jobs for as little as €200 a month just to have a foot in the door, so they may have employment if and when the economy picks up.
When I strolled in one of the ancient parks in the Old Town I could not help but notice that the pathways were covered in weeds and untrimmed shrubbery. This is a visual sign of austerity but there are little reminders everywhere. You notice the bald tyres on at lot of cars, the shopkeeper standing at the door way for over an hour and not meeting one customer, waiters practically fighting for your custom and petrol at over two Euros per liter. This is austerity.
I ask about the health service and am told that every person who enters a hospital or doctor’s surgery in the public or private sector is expected to place a good sum of money into the open pocket of the doctors or nurses treating them. Failure to do so means you may not get the treatment you require or end up at the back of the queue. In many cases the front line staff in both schools and hospitals have not been paid in over six months. This is austerity.
You should not be under any illusion whatsoever that given the provisions of the Treaty that you’re being asked to vote on, on the 31st of May, Ireland will experience the same or worse conditions as Greece. The simple reason is we owe considerably more collectively as a country (€1,032,720,000,000 made up of sovereign, bank, commercial & private debt, Q4 2011) and per head of population (€206,544) than Greece (€484Bn or €44,952/capita).
In order to pay the interest alone on that debt we would need a growth rate of approximately 6% per year. This is impossible now and for the foreseeable future. Therefore, it is a mathematical certainty that we will require either writing off the bank debt or we will continue to go further and further into the red and be declared bankrupt under the provisions of the Treaty.
So, why then have we spent (and borrowed!) €62,000,000,000 of our children’s future earnings, on paying off the private debts (of the bank owners, bond holders and investors) to ‘protect’ our ‘international reputation’? Now, in the heat of the referendum, the Government tells us that the very same banks (or ‘markets’) will not lend us any money should we need it in the future. So much for our sacred International Reputation! More scare tactics. With the bank debt written off we would have no trouble borrowing on the open market.
After borrowing such an unimaginable sum of money surely we should be safe in the knowledge that banks that WE bailed out will be happy to lend to us? Well, no actually. Even though we gave them the money, obviously it never occurred to anybody within the government to ask these banks for a guarantee that they would be willing to lend to us again, should it be required.
The fact is that if the Euro collapses German exports will be approximately 40% (Frances +30%) more expensive than they are now and this would decimate the German economy. This is the reason Germany is doing everything and anything to take total control of the European Union.
I believe the only way out now is for massive debt write off and for the peripheral regions of Europe to leave the euro zone, albeit temporarily, and introduce a common Euro2 Currency, worth about 25% less than the present Euro. If this were to be adopted, it would mean that the countries which become party to this new currency would have a marketplace of approximately 250,000,000 people who share this currency and it would enable the rebuilding of these countries’ economies through massively increased competitiveness and and effective 25% reduction in our Foreign / bank debt. . This economic rebuilding and consolidation would take less time and cause significantly less human hardship than the austerity plan presently being put forward by the European Union and our own government.
Maybe it’s all nonsense, this economic carry on. Maybe getting ready for a communion or confirmation, following the soccer or rugby, keeping an eye on ‘Strictly’ or Corrie or just going out and getting lamped, are far more important to the majority. What the children will say, when they grow up and realise what an unmitigated disaster that we collectively made of their nation, only time will tell. Suffice to say, they will be sickened that we let it happen, through our own inaction and simple ‘couldn’t give a fiddlers’ attitude.
While I fully support a democratically accountable Europe Union and recognize the importance of balancing ‘the national books’, I am vehemently opposed to the Treaty as it is simply bad for the Country in the immediate term and for the generations to come.
A great article, very informative. Please God the Irish electorate will vote No on the 31st, and stop this immoral financial takeover of our country.
“Welcome to the Hotel Fiscalformula” – such a lovely place…..
Both the fiscal compact and the ESM are intergovernmental treaties, not EU treaties.
I am gravely concerned about this insofar as I cannot see how, if we so wished we could get out of them once ratified. We would almost certainly have to ditch the EZ and in ditching the EZ we would shortly thereafter cut most or all of ties with EU. It is clear to me that this possibility was specifically intended by Merkel & Sarkozy as another giant step to a ‘federal in name only’ EU under the total control of Germany & France at the centre.
Hence I am voting NO.
Why, because unlike our current leaders I have total and utter faith in Ireland and its people to make our way in this world on our own steam, with our unequalled resources, our intelligence, and ability to work hard and play fair. Leadership in this regard will only emerge when faced with the stark reality that despite all the EU & EZ guff about partnership and support we accept the fact is we are alone, on our own, and apart from the surreal paying of unwarranted private debt we are of ZERO interest to anyone of consequence at the controls of the EU.
In the event of Ireland leaving the EZ I would be happier to revert to a punt nua or sterling rather than peg onto another EU charter for EU’s scullery slaves in a Euro2. (open to debate though) I believe we are small enough and dexterous enough to redevelop an independent relationship with the global economy and indeed forge new and exciting trade relationships unfettered by furlongs of EU red tape.
We are at the fork now, I’m amazed that this is not discussed at all and that 40yrs of suckling on the EU sow has left our leaders bereft of all personal and public self respect. This clinging to a failed ‘status quo’ sickens me more than anything else.
We really need a new political discourse and even a new political party to articulate such ideas and I believe such a party would gain rapid popular support. Most families and individual citizens at this point can see no end to this crazy situation of ‘existing’ rather than ‘living’. That alone can be the vital catalyst for serious social and political change.
Best Regards Eamon.
I am sick to death listening to Govt back-benchers and Junior ministers (rolled out because Enda & Co. refuse to engage in debate – they cant justify their stance) continue to answer all questions on the matter with the mantra…..”.Stability, certainty and jobs”. The Govt’s (YES) arguement is constantly based on the availability of 2nd bailout money or begging-bowl policy and the certainty that a YES vote would bring as opposed to the vote NO, NO bailout money. Obviously the NO vote camp dont believe this to be true but the point I would like to base my Vote NO arguement around is the undemocratic powers this treaty will give the EMS with no powers of sanction whatsoever for Joe public. This is a CRIME ! This policy backs the Banks and screws the people! Sure our Ministers have it right STABILITY……for the Banks, CERTAINTY…….austerity will cripple Europe bigtime JOBS……..as mentioned by EB above, any jobs left will be low paid,poor conditions and rights. We have the Govts we have because of apathetic voters and non-voters. People who are interested in their own future realise that Politics includes themselves and not a separate division of career politicians -THEM who make all the decsions for us and so we can moan about THEM. The interested Voters of Ireland voted NO for Lisbon but that wasnt good enough so another referendum was called and the scare tactics got it through 2nd time. This referendum is being rushed thru for the same reasons. If you are confused or apathetic this time around please VOTE NO so you can say to your children and Grandchildren -” Well I voted NO”
I am voting No to the Fiscal Compact Treaty, but to be honest, it’s the ESM that really scares me, and we don’t even get a vote on it! It is designed to be completely unaccountable, and thanks to Article 35, it is immune from prosecution, and even investigation, no matter what they do. They can also call on as much money as they want from member states without having to get approval from anybody.
To be honest, I’d sooner take our chances as an independant nation with our sovereignty intact, rather than become a debt servicing vehicle for completely unaccountable European institutions
You are right about one thing, we are completely bust many times over, and the last few years have been all about avoiding reality. Well, I think we are quickly running out of road, and it will take something quite radical to give us any hope for the future. I for one would be willing to accept the consequences in order to bequeath national independance to our children. Lest we forget, many have paid the ultimate price to do the same for us. And we are about to throw it all away, in the hope that we get thrown a few crumbs from the head table. Shame on us
The current Government only speaks about getting interest rate cuts on the Irish National debt. Their focus should be 100% on the abolition of the Bank debt now within our National debt. Doing this Ireland has a chance of recovery, we can pay back our National debt but will NEVER EVER be able to pay back the Banks gambling debts. We MUST stand up and vote NO and let Enda go back to Europe letting them know we are prepared to sign up for the Treaty AFTER the gambling debt of the Banks has been removed, then and only then
Voting Yes is an acceptance of the Bank debt on our books, a tragedy for generations of Irish people