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I see this "blame the people" narrative all over Europe. Who who was the primary beneficiary of this neoliberal binge? How much were workers exploited in Ireland? A lot (see below)

[source].

If working people were not the main beneficiaries why are they expected to be the sole suckers that have to foot the bill and not the people they've been making money for?

And tell me (I really don't know): What percentage of national income went to hospitals, to education? Wasn't Ireland among the most unequal countries in the EU? How about the people at the top who made real money out of the bubble?

We had the same discussion with the Icelanders, and look where they are now. And we're having some variety of this discussion in Greece. There is no excuse to pretty much annul democracy and throw a country to the markets, witch pretty much is synonymous to shielding the elites form real damage. And this is not just about Ireland (although Ireland is an especially odious case given that the Irish government unabashedly burdened their own voters with the debts of their banker friends, at the ECB's request): it is about the whole EU periphery (and indeed even the working class EU-core) which, after Merkel is done with her "competitiveness" plans, will become German vassal states with quasi-feudal elites running them. So I personally as a citizen of Greece have a lot of sympathy for Ireland, and will root for them in the rather unlikely case that they manage to knock down this whole theater of vampire bankers feeding off a disaster they invented, by any means necessary. Heck raise a new independence army. I'll come and join as a volunteer, if we don't manage to kick off our own bag of mayhem down here.

Note that the elites where I am are pretty much disparaging the Greek people for not following exactly the sort of road the Irish have "chosen", they then fail to explain how that road led to the exact same consequences when all was said and done was that much better.  

The concept that people are "responsible" for policies that are presented to them by all the "important people" (and I won't even go into the international claptrap concerning the Irish model, and the Celtic Tiger) as inescapable and without alternative, assumes too much of democracy as is currently practiced. Especially if the end result of the bitter medicine they will be forced to swallow is even less democracy, fewer options and a vastly more skewed income distribution.

Having said all that, I think IM is helping a lot in honing the arguments and preempting criticism. So I think that this is becoming a rather useful exchange.

If it's going to a vote: I will sign whatever is agreed upon. As Egypt shows, many humble efforts can have unpredictable results - and what do we have to lose anyway.

One general question to Jake, Migeru and all: what would a similar proposal for Greece look like? Is there anything that Greeks can do to avoid this neolib hell we're experiencing? Apart from mass protests civil unrest and general havoc that is...

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom - William Blake

by talos (mihalis at gmail dot com) on Fri Feb 4th, 2011 at 05:55:25 PM EST
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what would a similar proposal for Greece look like? Is there anything that Greeks can do to avoid this neolib hell we're experiencing? Apart from mass protests civil unrest and general havoc that is...

Ireland is unique among the PIGS in that it has a structural balance of payments surplus, and that its goverment debt is unsustainable mostly because of the ill-conceived blanket guarantee of their failing bloated banks. They would have had a large deficit in 2009 in any case due to the recession, but without several multiples of GDP in zombie banks liabilities the Irish treasury and central bank would likely be jointly solvent.

I think Greece has only the nuclear option left: sovereign default and issuing scrip. But maybe that's a failure of my imagination.

Keynesianism is intellectually hard, as evidenced by the inability of many trained economists to get it - Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Feb 4th, 2011 at 06:09:06 PM EST
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Yes and the 1 trillion Euro question is: in the medium and in the long run, is the nuclear option better or worse for exactly the people you want to protect - compared to following the road of austerity and "reform" (which will lead to a default managed by the debtors at some point anyway)? Does just sitting and hoping for an electoral change of guard in Germany and France in the next couple of years even make sense?
Or is cutting general income levels in half but preserving their public nature, taxing property and assets and prosecuting tax dodgers among other things, a better option on a 5 or 10 year horizon?

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom - William Blake
by talos (mihalis at gmail dot com) on Fri Feb 4th, 2011 at 06:19:09 PM EST
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I actually think it is. Sovereign default doesn't imply an exit from the Euro, and if the money markets close down to Greece as a result and the European System of Central Banks temporarily stops clearing payments with the Greek Central Bank they pretty much force you to issue scrip to keep functioning, institute capital controls, or other emergency measures suspending parts of the EU rules. You can always pay any fines imposed by the European Court of Justice a decade later, when the economy has recovered.

Keynesianism is intellectually hard, as evidenced by the inability of many trained economists to get it - Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Feb 4th, 2011 at 06:39:00 PM EST
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Ah, right blame the ECB. Because the irish elites who created this low tax no regulation paradise are not blame at all. Instead they got you rooting for them.

And Iceland: I still think the glorious icelandish plan to split their banks and give the new part the assets and the old the debts was fraudulent. Especially because the domestic deposits were in the new bank and the foreign deposits in the old. But in the long run they will pay anyway. They already have to some countries.

by IM on Fri Feb 4th, 2011 at 06:24:53 PM EST
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No I'm not. Burn them. Tax them to oblivion. But the issue is not whether the elites or the people are to shoulder the blame. Under current arrangements workers pay for the debt and the elites (Irish, German etc) are free to make even more money and reflate some new bubble or whatever the magic fairy of unfettered markets tells them to do. How is that fair? At this point getting rid of the austerity seems a prerequisite for even the most basic popular input in the matter. And this is not solely an Irish  matter. Why should we care to protect German (or Irish, or whatever) bankers?

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom - William Blake
by talos (mihalis at gmail dot com) on Fri Feb 4th, 2011 at 06:30:22 PM EST
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I agree the Irish elites need to be held accountable, in the strict sense of that word.  All those "profits" (sic) need to be seized and used to help alleviate the crises.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Fri Feb 4th, 2011 at 06:32:01 PM EST
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The "well you chose this" option is nonsense.

It's like a spouse discovering that the other spouse is a crook who's defending themselves by saying "You married me for the nice house, so it's your fault I'm a thief."

People are trained - bizarrely - to assume that this economics stuff is far over their heads and they should leave it to the experts without expressing an opinion on it.

But the so-called experts act without oversight or accountability.

When a doctor fucks up badly and kills multiple people, the doctor is - at least - struck off.

Finance has no formal code of conduct, no regulatory body that can ban individuals from working in the industry, and no system for personal accountability when egregious errors are made.

Criminal fraud can be punished, but stupid decisions that ignore even the most basic requirements of due diligence aren't.

Since financiers have no concept of personal responsibility, default isn't just good economic sense, it's also the only option that can send the industry a message about ethical standards.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Feb 4th, 2011 at 07:00:42 PM EST
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Ah, right blame the ECB. Because the irish elites who created this low tax no regulation paradise are not blame at all. Instead they got you rooting for them.

Did you miss the part where I argued that the Irish oligarchs need to lose their shirts as well?

Here's a hint:

Then you make two lines on each of the two lists: One line between people you really, really want to save (ordinary bank depositors, industrial firms, etc.) and people you kinda sorta want to save if you can (private pension funds, non-toxic investment banks - if you have any of those left - etc.), and another line between the people you kinda sorta want to save and the evil people who should take a long walk off a short pier (bookies, toxic investment banks, everything with a business address on Canary Wharf).

Then you mix the lists like this:

Domestic need-to-save
Foreign need-to-save
Domestic want-to-save
Foreign want-to-save
Evil (foreign and domestic)

All the people on the 'evil' part of the list should ultimately end up losing their shirts completely.

And Iceland: I still think the glorious icelandish plan to split their banks and give the new part the assets and the old the debts was fraudulent.

That is a perfectly ordinary bank intervention. There is nothing fraudulent about that, and indeed it is how a bank is put through bankruptcy every month somewhere in the OECD.

But in the long run they will pay anyway.

No. Really, they won't have to pay anybody who isn't going to send a gunboat to Reykjavik.

They may want to pay some of their creditors, because they view their claims as legitimate, or because they want to avoid the political fallout from not paying them. But sovereign states never have to pay their creditors.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Feb 5th, 2011 at 02:30:06 AM EST
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Of course, that's sometimes how they get non-sovereign.

Align culture with our nature.
by ormondotvos (ormond no spam lmi net no spam) on Sat Feb 5th, 2011 at 10:07:16 PM EST
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Because the irish elites who created this low tax no regulation paradise are not blame at all.

They're already fucked. Most of them are down to whatever small numbers of millions they managed to squirrel away in the wife's name. They're not exactly homeless and starving, but they're down to a small percentage of their previous "wealth".  The ones that aren't are the ones who were rich before the boom. Some of them are still managing to appear rich, but they're standing in the air at the top of a canyon they just haven't noticed.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Feb 7th, 2011 at 09:45:55 AM EST
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