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Neoliberalism it was, low tax - no regulation - beggar your neighbour.
So, no cafeteria neo-liberalism allowed? If Ireland takes one bite of that apple they have to eat the whole apple, seeds and all?
Ireland opted to follow that part of the neo-lib agenda that suited it best. Beggar thy neighbor tax policies are de rigueur between the states in the USA and Ireland correctly saw this as a likely option to attract industries. If this was unacceptable it should have been required to be undone before the EMU proceeded to completion.
The real estate bubble in Ireland flowed from neo-lib ideology and practice and its replication in Ireland was cheered as an example of the benefits of this ideology and practice -- until it blew up. In these circumstances it seems entirely appropriate that the Irish state should seek to protect those social services that will allow counter-cyclical spending to alleviate suffering and prevent a debt-deflation economic death spiral.
At the time the EMU process was started the EU and Germany was characterized by rather generous social programs. The neo-liberal agenda has been largely to dismantle this system in the name of competitiveness but with the result of reducing the share of produced wealth going to workers and retirees as wages, benefits and social services.
The terms of the EMU/IMF settlement smack of vindictive opportunism by Germany and the ECB to punish Ireland for clinging to the low tax policy that has provided it with industry and to force Ireland to drastically cut social spending regardless of the human cost. It would be one thing if that policy might work. But that seems to have a vanishingly low probability of happening.
As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere." (But it helps!)
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