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Ruling Party Melt-down and the End of the EU project in Ireland

by Frank Schnittger Wed Dec 8th, 2010 at 05:20:31 AM EST

[Last week]'s Irish Sun Red C opinion poll estimates party support levels as follows (2007 General Election results in brackets):

Fianna Fail 13% (42%) -29%
Fine Gael 32% (27%) +5%
Labour 24% (10%) +14%
Green Party 3% (5%) -2%
Sinn Fein 16% (7%) +9%
Independents/Others 11% (9%) +2%

In other words, Fianna Fail, which has led Irish Governments for a total of 60 years since 1932 (and Fine Gael for the other 19) faces the prospect of becoming the fourth largest party in the state with Labour and Sinn Fein picking up most of their 29% loss of support.

What is also clear from these opinion poll results  is that the National political dispensation, which arose out of Independence from Britain and a civil war (over the non-inclusion of Northern Ireland in the independence Treaty) in 1922 is unravelling, and Sinn Fein is recapturing some of the revolutionary credentials which led to it being the dominant political force in the last years of British rule.  Angela Merkel had better not come looking for the Irish to pass any Referendum on a new EU Treaty any time soon.  The next time the Irish will likely reject EU overtures to facilitate another EU Treaty as firmly as the Brits were rebuffed and ejected in 1922.  That is the damage that the ECB is doing to the European project in Ireland.

from the diaries - Nomad


Adrian Kavanagh on politicalreform.ie applies those national average % changes in political support equally to each of Ireland's 43 multi-seat Single Transferable Vote Constituencies and concludes that the number of seats which would be won by each party based on that level of support is as follows (2007 General election results in brackets):

Fianna Fail 12 (78) -66
Fine Gael 67 (51) +16
Labour 48 (20) +28
Green Party 0 (6) -6
Sinn Fein 24 (4) +20
Independents/Others 15 (7) +8

Based on these figures, and because most of the Independents are likely to be left leaning, it is just about possible that a left wing Government comprising Labour, Sinn Fein, and 12 of the 15 Independents could achieve the 84 Seats required to form a Dail Majority and elect a Labour Taoiseach.  

However a number of severe health warnings need to be applied to these figures and any conclusions derived from them. For the reasons I outline below, I consider a Labour/Sinn Fein Government to be an unlikely outcome of the election. What follows is perhaps primarily of interest to political junkies interested in the internal dynamics of the Irish political scene and the intricacies of the the multi-seat single transferable vote system of election. However for reasons which I hope will become clear, these have important implications for the future of the European project in Ireland.

Firstly, under Ireland's Single Transferable Vote System of (semi) proportional representation, people vote for a candidate rather than a party. Thus many Fianna Fail sitting TD's (MPs) may survive based on their personal popularity or track record within the constituency, and despite any drag caused by their party affiliation.  (Candidates have been known to drop their party affiliation from all their election posters/literature if they perceive it to be a negative for them).

Secondly, Labour and Sinn Fein may simply not have enough well known candidates in each constituency to maximise their actual vote in each constituency. People who tell a pollster they are voting for a particular party may still actually vote for the candidates they know rather than candidates they don't know regardless of their party affiliation.

Thirdly, Labour and Sinn Fein may not have sufficiently strong party organisations in each constituency to ensure that they (a) attract strong candidates, (b) get out the vote, (c) spread the vote as equally between their candidates as possible to prevent one of their candidates being eliminated in an early count and thus not able to attract later transfers of lower preference votes from other candidates as they are eliminated.

For example, Sinn Fein got 40% of the first preference vote in the recent Donegal bye-election, with both Fianna Fail and Fine Gael getting approximately 20% of the vote each.  However the quota for getting elected in a three seat Constituency like Donegal South-West is 25% +1 vote (i.e. just sufficient to make it impossible for 4 candidates to reach the quota.)  Thus if Pearse Doherty, the high profile and successful Sinn Fein candidate gets (say) 30% of the first preference vote, with a second Sinn Fein candidate getting another 10% of the vote it is virtually impossible for Sinn Fein to win 2 seats in the General.  

This is because when Pearse Doherty is deemed elected (having passed the quota), only his Surplus of 5% (being 30%-25% quota = 5%) is available for distribution to other candidates in accordance with the voters second preference on his ballots. Typically these second preference are scattered around all the remaining candidates and perhaps only c. 50% of the surplus goes to his actual party colleague.  The second Sinn Fein Candidate would then only get c. 50% of the 5% surplus = 2.5% of the vote to add to his first round total of 10% = 12.5% and well below the Fianna Fain and Fine Gael candidates 20% of the vote.

Of course if Fianna Fail are stupid and nominate two candidates in an attempt to retain the two seats in Donegal South West they won in 2007 and  their candidates are equally strong/weak, getting about 10% of the vote each; then there is a strong possibility that both will lose.  This is because whichever candidate is eliminated first may only transfer 50% of his votes to his party colleague resulting in the remaining Fianna Fail Candidate being marooned on c. 10+5%=15% of the vote - well short of the 25% quota, and with little prospect of getting significant transfers from other candidates/parties.

Maximising the number of seats you can win based on a given level of support is called vote management and is engaged in by all political parties. Basically a party needs to set a realistic target for the number of seats it can win in a constituency and then nominate that number (and only that number) of candidates.  Thus (in the example above) Sinn Fein should nominate two candidates and try to ensure that both get about 20% of the vote.  This requires strong party organisation/discipline with Pearse Doherty agreeing to encourage many Sinn Fein party supporters to vote for the second Sinn Fein candidate rather than himself.  Typically this is done by carving up the Constituency between the two candidates (often based on their home areas) and asking party supporter to give their first preference vote to their local Sinn Fein candidate and their second preference to the other Sinn Fein candidate from the other part of the constituency.

Parties can seek to maximise their seat gains by "balancing" their candidate slate in each constituency - i.e. selecting candidates from opposite ends of the constituency, having male/female split, strong national name recognition versus well known local community activist - or someone likely to attract votes from other candidates on their elimination - e.g. a candidate with strong "green" credentials who might pick up a lot of transfers on the elimination of the official Green Party candidate.

However smaller parties like Labour and Sinn Fein have very little experience of such vote management as they have generally only aspired to win one seat in any constituency. It is also against the personal interest of an established candidate to facilitate the selection of a strong running mate as it might put his/her own seat at risk. On rare occasions the vote management arrangements described above have backfired and the more established candidate has actually lost to the running mate he encouraged his supporters to vote for. On the last occasion there was a "wave" election in 1992, Labour actually only won 33 seats with 20% of the vote because they hadn't selected enough strong candidates (possibly due to resistance from established candidates not wanting to have strong running mates).

The reason I have gone into such detail into the electioneering process is because I do not believe that Adrian Kavanagh's seat projections based on the national party support levels identified by the poll are likely to be accurate. Firstly he applies the change in national support levels equally across all 43 constituencies (because a 1,000 respondent poll cannot be meaningfully be split into and analysed by 43 constituencies) but this necessarily misses all sorts of regional variations and local factors - the personal profiles of established candidates, party organisation, candidate selection and slate optimisation etc.

The other reason why the election, even if it does result in a Labour/Sinn Fein landslide, is unlikely to result in a Labour/Sinn Fein Government is that Labour have pledged not to work with Sinn Fein because of their past paramilitary associations. (Party Leader Eamonn Gilmore and many of his senior colleagues original came from the "Official" wing of Sinn Fein which split from Provisional Sinn Fein over the use of violence amid much personal animosity).

It is not, of course, unknown for parties to change their tune once the election is over. Fianna Fail was famously opposed to all coalition arrangements until it became clear it no longer had any prospect of forming a single party Government. Moreover Labour have frequently entered into a pre-election pact with Fine Gael to create the sense of an alternative Government in waiting and with a joint electoral programme. I think it unlikely they will do so on this occasion (because of their differences on the bail-out) but it is unlikely they will want to legitimise Sinn Fein as a party of Government (as Sinn Féin are now their major rival for left leaning or anti-establishment votes).

By far and away the most likely outcome of the General election is therefore a Fine Gael/Labour Coalition led (on the above figures for party post election seat numbers) by Fine Gael Leader Enda Kenny. However the Labour Leader, Eamonn Gilmore, is much more popular, and in the Red C poll was the choice for Taoiseach of 41% of the electorate - with 25% supporting Enda Kenny and 8% the current Taoiseach, Brian Cowen. Thus, if the election is dominated by national issues, as it will be, the voters preference for Taoiseach may play a powerful role in boosting the Labour vote even amongst voters who would normally support Fine Gael.

A huge amount will therefore depend on how the campaign unfolds - firstly on what detailed measures are contained in the Budget and how these effect large groups of swing voters, secondly on whether the budget is passed and with whose support - Fine Gael may abstain because they are ideologically as neo-liberal as Fianna Fail, and thirdly on how the campaign is conducted and managed by each of the party leaders and party organisations. In my view Fine Gael will concede the high ground to Labour if they abstain on the Budget and could well lose their position as the larger party and their right to nominate their Leader as Taoiseach if they fail to oppose the Budget and the economic philosophy it incorporates.

The Sinn Féin President, Gerry Adams, has said he will resign both his seats in the British Westminster Parliament and in the Northern Ireland Assembly in order to contest the Irish General Election in the Louth Constituency - a fact which may have contributed to the decision of the Justice Minster, Dermot Ahern to retire and not contest that constituency again. In the past Dermot Ahern was considered a likely successor to the current Leader of Fianna Fail, Brian Cowen, so his decision to retire, allegedly on health grounds, is also an indication of how Fianna Fail rates its own chances in the election.

In the past, Gerry Adam's strong Belfast roots, accent, and lack of southern local knowledge has not played well in the south. But Sinn Fein has lacked a strong leader in the South and his presence in the election as a candidate and Party Leader will undoubtedly add profile and credibility to the Sinn Fein campaign.  If southern parties can insist that Sinn Fein should be allowed to participate in power sharing administrations in Northern Ireland, on what basis can they argue Sinn Fein is not entitled to form part of an Irish Government especially as they have not re-engaged in significant violence since the Good Friday Agreement of 1998?

A Labour led Government either with the participation of Sinn Fein or looking over their shoulders at a Sinn Fein opposition gaining ground at their expense as they implement austerity measures with Fine Gael is thus a distinctly possible outcome of the election based on the sort of figures we are seeing in recent opinion poll trends. Either way, the IMF/ECB deal will be seen as a Fianna Fail deal to be resiled from as much as possible and to be blamed for every unpopular Government measure. The EU will come to be seen with the same hostility as this much reviled Fianna Fail Government and Ireland's honeymoon relationship with the EU will be well and truly over.

Display:
The possible demise of the Green Party as a Parliamentary party is largely due to their participation in the most unpopular Government in Irish political history and their failure to oppose NAMA or the Bank Bail-out - and now the IMF/ECB deal brought about by those failures.  They have, however, played a significant role in main-streaming some "green" issues and their elimination as a significant parliamentary force need not result in major setbacks for more environmentally sustainable Government policies.  It is a pity, however, that "Green" policies have, to some extent, been given a bad name by the failure of the Green Party to stand up for a distinct political or economic policy when it mattered most.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Dec 2nd, 2010 at 10:50:00 PM EST
The Irish Greens were suicidal just like their Czech counterparts.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 01:41:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
which begs the question: are these elected greens just opportunists using the green bandwagon to advance their careers, ready to jettison principle once they have leveraged enough public credibility to feel secure in the club, having found other ways there to become politically indispensable to some PTB, who'll grease their palm?

or: is politics so corrupt that people with sincere green agendas are somehow marginalised, no matter how strong their intention?

probably some of both...

it is very disappointing, and just like with the libdems, one must surely conclude that riding the devil's coat-tails is not the best way to the power you think you want!

meanwhile the planet broils, and the people starve, for want of a viable worldwide green movement.

we must be more capable than this to wrest power from those who could give a FF about anyone but themselves, and no interest in a sustainable quality of life for the rest of us.

there seems to be only one cure for humans astonishing capacity for suicidal levels of denial, since we won't take heed of those wise enough to warn us, indeed we insult them by lip service and co-opting their slogans to dig further in!

green_er_ cars, power gen from burning food, dioxin-spewing incinerators classed as renewables, sooty chimneys carbon-scrubbed, nukes as eco-friendly...

fucked... now there's whingeing that the solar/wind incentives are too generous.

it's like watching people self-immolating, and doing so with little concern for those around them.

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 09:34:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No true green?

Of all the ways of organizing banking, the worst is the one we have today — Mervyn King, 25 October 2010
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 09:39:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Cognitive dissonance - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A classical example of this idea (and the origin of the expression "sour grapes") is expressed in the fable The Fox and the Grapes by Aesop (ca. 620-564 BCE). In the story, a fox sees some high-hanging grapes and wishes to eat them. When the fox is unable to think of a way to reach them, he surmises that the grapes are probably not worth eating, as they must not be ripe or that they are sour. This example follows a pattern: one desires something, finds it unattainable, and reduces one's dissonance by criticizing it. Jon Elster calls this pattern "adaptive preference formation."[1

i may be missing some nuance of yours here...

;)

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 11:34:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
it's truly sad, isn't it? things are no better here in suomi. nice ideas, probably nice people, but sincere green agendas are always marginalized; here, there, everywhere. beat down into submission. always and evermore. america is even worse, they can't even get a candidate on the ballot.

why can't the greens unite, and get a viable worldwide green movement going as you suggest? it seems a lot of people are green on the inside, where their thoughts are, but less so on the outside when it calls for action. they always seem to fold, and follow the path of least resistance. they never seems to possess the necessary political acumen to move in the direction of actually getting things done in the political arena. wonder why? ha,ha, hee,hee. it might be humorous if it wasn't so sad.

by sgr2 on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 12:36:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
it's true, it is funny in how absurdly unnecessary so much suffering is, yet the punishers and the punished seem locked in some kind of unholy matrimony...

maybe one reason for lack of commanding, charismatic, green movement leaders is the inner inconsistency, cog-diss, between the lifestyle of a pol, jetting around, and the personal example that gives integrity to the persona.

the further you get into that kind of double-bind, the less power you have personally, the same power you'll need extra oodles of just to swim upstream, let alone inspire others to do likewise.

whereas supporters of the status quo have the massive public ignorance as current to carry them down the river of their own preconceptions.

it is tragic, how much more pain people will manifest before they look up from the sports page, or the celeb vamping.

what are you gonna do? i guess the planet has to get so mad at us that only pols who walk and talk green will dare show their faces, let alone ask us the privilege of our votes.

meanwhile we skry the graphs and wonder what miracle could save us...

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 03:25:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The failure of the Green party in Ireland and other Green parties to deliver on their stated social justice and economic sustainability agenda has confirmed an intuition that I have long held; that neither of these are compatible with capitalism, or at least the very least the form of capitalism we currently suffer from.

And how can we ever have imagined it could be so?  How can a political and economic system dedicated to short term gain of the few ever deliver the long-term planning and social change necessary for a sustainable and just economy?  Consequently, the only Greens that can justifiably call themselves so are anti-capitalist Greens.  Of which there are many - but they are as scarce as hens teeth in Green coalition governments.

Tactically, it must mean that genuinely Green parties must drive hard bargains, be prepared to walk out of coalition when their policies get watered down, and be willing to spend more time in opposition.  And I mean by opposition not just parliamentary opposition.  Being a well-meaning nice person just doesn't cut it.

by Pope Epopt on Sat Dec 4th, 2010 at 08:13:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Can you make this a diary?

Of all the ways of organizing banking, the worst is the one we have today — Mervyn King, 25 October 2010
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Dec 4th, 2010 at 08:16:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
yeah, seconded!

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Dec 7th, 2010 at 05:29:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... like they think they are special interest parties, and so pursue internal contradictions like adopting "fiscal responsibility" to look serious when arguing for specific ameliorations of the devastation to our life support system ...

... when the "fiscal responsibility" hurdle is there precisely to hamstring the ability of governments to do what they in reality have the resources to do ~ inventing artificial constraints based on the rules of the game that we have invented, as an excuse for why we cannot respect the real constraints based on the rules of the game that invented us.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun Dec 5th, 2010 at 12:17:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Fionnan Sheahan: FF's damage limitation is now disaster management - Fionnan Sheahan, Columnists - Independent.ie
The party is banking on its established TDs with long track records of constituency work on the ground pulling in an extra personal vote.

But UCC Department of Government lecturer Dr Theresa Reidy said the bailout for Ireland undermined Fianna Fail's economic reputation and its sovereignty credentials in the eyes of the voters.

"Fianna Fail is looking at significant electoral losses because it has lost its economic governance support base, and the IMF-EU involvement eroded its core nationalist credentials," she said.

Fianna Fail is not just into damage limitation, now its disaster management. The worse the figures get the more endangered Mr Cowen becomes.

An increasing number of TDs figure their chances might be marginally better with him removed from the picture. Not by a whole lot. Fianna Fail's brand is currently poison

The Irish Independent has traditionally supported Fine Gael but even it questions who should lead the opposition at the top of the above story...

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 03:40:53 AM EST
Cowen was the Finance Minister under Bertie Ahern, so he's as responsible for the mess as anyone can be.

Of all the ways of organizing banking, the worst is the one we have today — Mervyn King, 25 October 2010
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 03:57:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, but he was an ill-advised pragmatist compared to his predecessor McCreevy who was the leading free market ideologue - together with Mary Harney of the now defunct Progressive Democrats - our own tiny neo-lib party.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 04:14:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Was he any less incompetent than Geir Haarde, all things considered?

Of all the ways of organizing banking, the worst is the one we have today — Mervyn King, 25 October 2010
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 04:33:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Cowen is a Solictor from a small business (Auctioneering and Publican) and political family background. My father knew his father as a local representative and backbench TD (MP). Nothing in his background or training would have prepared him to understand the intricacies of international finance and banking that he needed to understand on become Finance Minister.  

As such he just joined the standard Irish tradition of doling out the taxpayers largesse to favoured groups and causes - with a slight break on the tax cutting predilections of his predecessor. Most Irish parliamentary politicians come from a political family, legal, small business, auctioneering, Publican or sporting background - all professions which help to build a personal profile in local communities but which do nothing to build a skill-set capable of running a modern state (or large business) in a global economy/financiality.

As such the Irish political class was always dependent on a competent senior civil service cadre - something which has also been sorely lacking in recent times.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 05:10:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Frank Schnittger:
Nothing in his background or training would have prepared him to understand the intricacies of international finance and banking that he needed to understand on become Finance Minister.
Then why did he become Minister of Finance?

Of all the ways of organizing banking, the worst is the one we have today — Mervyn King, 25 October 2010
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 05:59:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And conversely, if he had come from the Goldman Sachs sovereign bonds unit we'd be complaining about the revolving door.

Of all the ways of organizing banking, the worst is the one we have today — Mervyn King, 25 October 2010
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 06:00:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think there is a basic problem in that political leaders now need a range of skills to run their countries some of which require an intimate knowledge of the multinational and financial sectors they are supposed to be regulating and controlling.  I'm not one who has a reflexive problem with ex-senior business execs becoming political leaders - the issue is why and with what purpose.  If their purpose is to build a career leading to big money future appointments in the private sector then you have a serious problem.  On the other hand some of the best gamekeepers used to be poachers...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 06:12:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
maybe this will seem nuts to some, but i think a lot of the problem pols have with being responsible, long term, altruistic, visionary statesmen types, is that, similar to an intense business careerism trajectory, people don't spend enough time with children, their own, if extant, or others'.

anyone born to parents who are type-a careerists can attest to how abandoning it feels, the meagre contact, the endless tension of the high-stakes lifestyle brought into the arena of the home, with frequently disastrous results, from the childrens' psychological point of view.

the type of person attracted to, and with the singleminded ambitious drive and stamina to endure the commitments of time and energy needed to ascend the greasy pole of success, has had to renounce many things along the way there.

the ego-softening, longterm responsibilisation that occurs naturally in the heart when childrens' demands make a parent slow down and lighten up, entering into play to communicate, are often largely absent in these streamlined, lean mean success machines.

this helps explain to me why leaders are so callous towards the future, and so lacking in human compassion.

as they say, once you can fake honesty, the rest is easy...

and we keep expecting these sociopaths to make conscious decisions that are for the greatest good of all, while the results speak for themselves!

duh

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 09:11:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 09:31:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And if he'd come from an academic background, we'd be complaining about him having no experience of holding down an honest job...

- Jake

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

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 06:13:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, if he didn't even have an academic background but was a party-political animal from his days in student politics [as in increasingly the case with the new generation of young ministers, for instance Spain's health minister], then we'd have real cause to worry.

Of all the ways of organizing banking, the worst is the one we have today — Mervyn King, 25 October 2010
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 06:18:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
He simply inherited the family business...a common enough feature of Irish politics

Brian Cowen - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Cowen was elected to Dáil Éireann in the Laois-Offaly by-election of 1984, caused by the death of his father.[21] At the time Cowen, at the age of 24, became the youngest member of the 24th Dáil. He was also elected to Offaly County Council in the same year, taking over the seat vacated by his late father


Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 06:30:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Saw one report late last night that his popularity rating is now lower than the interest rate that Ireland has signed up to.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sat Dec 4th, 2010 at 08:30:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, the problem would be that he HAD held down an honest job and did not understand the wheeler dealing required to succeed in the "real world" of business...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 06:19:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Or that they are incompetent message-managers and the media eat them alive.

If they are competent, we complain of spin.

Of all the ways of organizing banking, the worst is the one we have today — Mervyn King, 25 October 2010

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 06:25:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Because he had built up a solid base of support within FF by developing all the right relationships, was loyal to his party leader (Bertie Ahearn), and was seen to have been a "safe pair of hands" who didn't rock the boat in his previous ministerial appointments.  I.e. all "political" reasons.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 06:06:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Who, then, was actually in charge of Irish Finance? The civil service within the Ministry? The Mid-level management in the Irish private banks? The staff of the Central Bank?

Of all the ways of organizing banking, the worst is the one we have today — Mervyn King, 25 October 2010
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 06:09:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's the basic problem.  The financial regulator was incompetent. The Irish central bank virtually redundant.  (I have an acquaintance who used to be a senior official with the bank and who spent his time skulling pints and attending conferences.  There was never any pretence at real work)  The quality of senior Irish civil servants is lamentable - they are almost more into "relationship building" rather than hard analysis and decision making than the "populist" politicians themselves...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 06:16:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Frank Schnittger:
The Irish central bank virtually redundant.  (I have an acquaintance who used to be a senior official with the bank and who spent his time skulling pints and attending conferences.  There was never any pretence at real work)
I was re-reading this yesterday
A credit crunch and liquidity squeeze is instead the time for central banks to get their hands dirty and take socially necessary risks which are not part and parcel of the art of central banking during normal times when markets are orderly. Making monetary policy under conditions of orderly markets is really not that hard. Any group of people with IQs in three digits (individually) and familiar with (almost) any intermediate macroeconomics textbook could do the job. Dealing with a liquidity crisis and credit crunch is hard. Inevitably, it exposes the central bank to significant financial and reputational risk. The central banks will be asked to take credit risk (of unknown) magnitude onto their balance sheets and they will have to make explicit judgments about the creditworthiness of various counterparties. But without taking these risks the central banks will be financially and reputationally safe, but poor servants of the public interest.
and I got to thinking: if during good times being in certain positions of responsibility is an unchallenging job, how do you ensure that people with the necessary skills and resolve (not necessarily individually, but certainly collectively) are where they need to be in a time of crisis?

A military analogy would be, how do you maintain combat-readiness in your defence forces after two generations of peace? And if you don't, who do you turn to when the unthinkable happens and you're invaded?

Of all the ways of organizing banking, the worst is the one we have today — Mervyn King, 25 October 2010

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 06:23:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A lot of people got into serious money or positions of responsibility on the back of the Celtic Tiger and none of them had any interest in rocking the boat or questioning the possibility that their own "success" was due to anything other than their own personal brilliance and judgement.  People who asked awkward questions or posed a risk to those engaged in career building typically got nowhere and were marginalised or sidelined. It happens in private business as well of course, but at least here the empire building and profit maximising objective of the organisation is explicit. What got to me was the vacuous moralising of incompetents in senior positions who claimed to be acting from high principle...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 06:38:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What is Patrick Honohan's story?

Of all the ways of organizing banking, the worst is the one we have today — Mervyn King, 25 October 2010
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 06:51:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Governor of the Central Bank of Ireland used to be a sinecure for a retiring Secretary General of the Department of Finance... Patrick was the first "external" appointee and certainly has relevant academic and work experience.

Patrick Honohan - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Before pursuing postgraduate research, Honohan took a position with the International Monetary Fund in 1971. While completing his PhD in London, he joined the economics staff of the Central Bank of Ireland. During the 1980s, he was Economic Advisor to Taoiseach Garret Fitzgerald and subsequently began working with the World Bank. Honohan then spent seven years as a Research Professor with the Economic and Social Research Institute before returning to the World Bank in 1998 as a Lead Economist and subsequently Senior Advisor on financial sector policy.

The author of numerous academic papers and monographs,[3] he has taught economics at the LSE, University of California, San Diego, the Australian National University and University College Dublin. He was appointed Professor of International Financial Economics and Development in 2007 at Trinity College Dublin.

In September 2009, Honohan was appointed as the tenth governor of the Central Bank of Ireland.

The following December he said in a speech that "ignorance and inattention" by staff at the Financial Regulator were to blame for regulatory failure.

As far as I know he is a respected if mainstream economist known for his blunt talking.  However he appears to have avoided criticism the Central Bank in the above quote and I am unclear what remaining functions (not carried out by the financial regulator or the ECB) continue to justify such a large staff at the Central bank in their preposterous Head office in central Dublin (which was originally built in breach of Planning permission and had to be lowered to become more compliant...an appropriate metaphor for how it conducted itself in other ways...)

Not being an economist I won't comment on the ideological orientation or significance of his research work.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 07:25:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I found that you mentioned his report in June: The Irish Disease
The Irish crash was a peculiarly Irish creation after all.
Oh, well, nothing particularly Irish about that, Iceland had the same problems... And so did bigger countries, it's just that bigger countries are TBTF...
Reports blame domestic factors for banking crisis
...

The Government's budgets during the boom years "contributed significantly to the economic overheating", Dr Honohan said, as they relied to an "unsustainable extent" on the construction sector and encouraged the property boom through tax breaks.

"This helped create a climate of public opinion which was led to believe that the party could last forever," he said.

Dr Honohan found that the Financial Regulator was "excessively deferential and accommodating" to the banks, while the Central Bank, led by his predecessor John Hurley, had not been alert to warnings signs of an imminent crash.

There was insufficient awareness or willingness to accept "how close the system was to the edge" and that it was the responsibility of the Central Bank and the regulator to pull it back from the edge, he said.

"Rocking the boat and swimming against the tide of public opinion would have required a particularly strong sense of the independent role of a central bank in being prepared to `spoil the party' and withstand possible strong adverse public reaction," Dr Honohan said.

Pat Neary, the former chief executive of the regulator, said he had no comment. Mr Neary's predecessor, Liam O'Reilly, and Mr Hurley could not be reached for comment.

Dr Honohan said there was "a comprehensive failure of bank management" to maintain "safe and sound banking practices".

The weakness of the Irish banks was not caused by the collapse of US bank Lehman Brothers in September 2008 but by an over-exposure to property driven by excessive overseas borrowing "to support a creditfuelled property market and construction frenzy".

Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide Building Society were "well on the road towards insolvency" at that stage, he said, while the two biggest banks, Allied Irish Banks and Bank of Ireland, could only have survived without a State bailout if the international financial markets had calmed.

The scale of the Government guarantee raised the cost of the bailout to the State, narrowing options available to fix failing institutions, he said.

...

So obviously the Government will now resign in the wake of such a damning indictment?

I take it that they didn't...

Of all the ways of organizing banking, the worst is the one we have today — Mervyn King, 25 October 2010
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 08:54:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Resigning is not part of mainstream Irish political culture - particularly in FF - where almost nothing a Minister can do wrong is deemed sufficient to warrant a resignation - or at least until such time as a great retirement package beckons...

I googled "Irish ministerial resignations for wrongdoing" and came up with nothing, so we must be clean...

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 09:04:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
how do you ensure that people with the necessary skills and resolve (not necessarily individually, but certainly collectively) are where they need to be in a time of crisis?

Perhaps what is needed in times of crisis is a mechanism to bring in additional expertise from business and academia and international bodies, explicitly including non-mainstream views,  and give them a mandate to jointly hash out the options and consequences with top political leaders, with all deliberations recorded and to be published within one year.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 09:24:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Public recordings - not just minutes, but actual video and audio - of all significant ministerial and financial meetings would go a long way to restoring real accountability.

Meanwhile, if you want to avoid disaster, you have to build a system with feedback loops that make disaster less likely.

Promoting idiots who are out of their depth but are "a safe pair of hands" and "won't rock the boat" is a good way not to do that.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 09:33:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy:
Public recordings - not just minutes, but actual video and audio - of all significant ministerial and financial meetings would go a long way to restoring real accountability.

Do you really think it would work, even if desirable (I don't think it is)? Don't you think that, the minute after they start recording these meetings, participant will stop saying anything significant and shift to backroom deals for the real stuff and decision-making? Unless you implant microphones and micro-cameras on all the politicians and civil servants (and CEOs while we are at it), you won't be able to monitor them properly...

"People only accept change when they are faced with necessity, and only recognize necessity when a crisis is upon them." - Jean Monnet

by Melanchthon on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 11:22:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, I really think it would work.

All discussions, all personal, departmental, and relevant corporate financial records, all decisions and positions should be public.

Backroom deals should be banned.

What would be the problem with this?

Of course everyone would be nervous with the public looking over their shoulder. But that's exactly the point.

Pols with something to hide would naturally excuse themselves from power and surveillance - which doesn't seem like a loss to me.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 11:51:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Backroom deals should be banned.

It's nice to see you still hold on some idealism.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 12:01:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy:
All discussions, all personal, departmental, and relevant corporate financial records, all decisions and positions should be public.

Backroom deals should be banned.

And how would you enforce this? It would require a lot of people dedicated to watching these politicians/civil servants/decision-makers and a lot of sophisticated equipment to monitor them all the time. Oh, and at what level would you start?

And saying that a measure only harms those who "have something to hide" is an old authoritarian argument...

"People only accept change when they are faced with necessity, and only recognize necessity when a crisis is upon them." - Jean Monnet

by Melanchthon on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 12:06:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If a cabinet meeting decides X, but Y becomes policy instead then it's not hard to see that something has gone astray somewhere.

There's already plenty of discussion and debate about policy and politicians. It wouldn't need a Separate Public Oversight Committee with people in scary robes and fascist black leather - debate would happen naturally, just as it does already, but more so.

Why would that be a bad thing?

As for "having something to hide", the point is that pols notoriously do have things to hide - many, many things, which they would rather the public never found out about. The things they hide suck out democracy and public involvement from politics like the legislative equivalent of a black hole.

Do you think the FOIA legislation is authoritarian too? Or Finland's public financial disclosure laws? Is Wikileaks authoritarian for making diplomatic cables public?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 12:19:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy:
If a cabinet meeting decides X, but Y becomes policy instead then it's not hard to see that something has gone astray somewhere.

But, usually, backroom deals take place before meetings where decisions are made. So there would be no discrepancy between a decision made during the meeting and the policy implemented...

I am all in favour of FOIA, but you must notice that there is a period of time during which you cannot access the information/data. And Finland's law is limited to a certain type of information, whereas you would like to make public in real time "all the discussions and meetings".

What I am saying is this would require a STASI-like organisation. And who would monitor this organisation? How long would it take before this organisation become the real power?

"People only accept change when they are faced with necessity, and only recognize necessity when a crisis is upon them." - Jean Monnet

by Melanchthon on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 12:42:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why would it require any organisation at all?

You set up live feeds, and you put the media recordings up on a server. The public and the press can do the rest.

I'll say again - there is no Bureau of Transgression in this idea. It's purely to put policy debate on the record.

As for backroom deals - a meeting that rubber stamps a decision without debating it is just as suspicious as a meeting which doesn't lead to consistent policy.

Financial records provide a literal paper trail for anyone who wants to check who benefits from decisions.

I don't understand why there's a problem with any of this. Parliamentary debates are already televised in the UK, Hansard keeps a record of all parliamentary statements in paper form, and MPs are supposed to make their expense claims and business connections public.

This is just extending the same established principle to other government contexts.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 01:25:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Parliamentary debates are theatre for the entertainment of policy wonks. And occasionally - very, very occasionally - a public arena for the execution of a particularly criminal indiscreet politician.

Like the meetings of the general assembly of shareholders in a large industrial corporation.

- Jake

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

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 02:18:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What I am saying is this would require a STASI-like organisation. And who would monitor this organisation?

Make it the law that acceptance of governmental employment constitutes permission to have your activities recorded by sound and video, and, except as specifically excluded, it is legal to make any of these recordings public. Make the legal presumption in favor of release of recordings and make claims to the contrary continuously subject to judicial review, with both the party that made the recording and the party that was recorded entitled to bring claims to a judge of their choice.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Dec 4th, 2010 at 05:20:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ugh.  This would make government unworkable. It would also be a huge invasion of privacy for both politicians and civil servants (the Wikileaks cables come mostly from mid-level civil servants).  Nobody could function this way. Imagine this for a private company and the implications for their ability to work together and interact with other companies.  And that's the problem I have with Cablegate - it's the sheer banality of it all that makes it hard to justify.  The vast majority of the stuff I've read is routine government communication of the sort I want foreign service officers to engage in.  The difficulties it causes America are mostly of the personal embarrassment kind, and the fear of actually doing their jobs properly.
by MarekNYC on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 12:17:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Dude - you have a country which is running around the planet blowing people up at random, torturing them, giving vast hand-outs to mil-ind thugs, which is riddled with insider corruption, is starving its citizens and depriving them of income in the run up to the Christmas season, which has officially sanctioned random wiretaps without serious cause, and has taken to sexually abusing anyone who steps on a plane...

And you're complaining my suggestion would make government unworkable?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 12:22:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yup.  It also does a lot of the stuff a government needs to do.  And unlike you, I don't see the US as particularly bad except that its huge power allows for a greater scale of abusive behaviour.
by MarekNYC on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 12:30:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You seem to have much lower expectations of sane, functional government than I do.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 12:35:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You seem to have much more realistic lower expectations of sane, functional government than I do.
by MarekNYC on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 12:39:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I, for one, welcome our new federal dick-measuring overlords.... ;)

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sat Dec 4th, 2010 at 08:41:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I thought you wrote 'click-measuring'...oh, but wait a mo....

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Sat Dec 4th, 2010 at 09:11:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Can't remember who first started calling the new TSA machines "The Federal Dick-Measuring Device," but I'm sticking with that.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sat Dec 4th, 2010 at 09:15:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I beg to differ. Those cables contain a lot of names of European collaborators, who can now be hung out to dry in public. Of course developing Quislings is proper on-the-ground foreign policy for any diplomatic corps. I'd be downright disappointed if our own diplomats behaved any differently. But as a European, I'd still like to know when other people do it to us.

In particular, I learned something about the European secret police: They are either blind, dumb and deaf-mute for not already having those cables in their archives (with three million people having access to them, any serious intelligence agency should be able to get a data dump now and then); or that they are completely on board with politicians collaborating with the Americans. Considering how much time they spent chasing DFHs suspected of taking funding from the KGB, this reveals something of a double standard (either between the treatment of spies from different countries, or between hippies and politicians being spies).

- Jake

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

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 12:30:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
El Pais is having a field day today exposing the entire PP leadership as quislings...

Of all the ways of organizing banking, the worst is the one we have today — Mervyn King, 25 October 2010
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 12:36:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Pols with something to hide would naturally excuse themselves from power and surveillance - which doesn't seem like a loss to me.

So anyone who isn't completely dull in their private life would opt out?

Of all the ways of organizing banking, the worst is the one we have today — Mervyn King, 25 October 2010

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 12:43:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not suggesting 24 hour surveillance with headcams.

But people who can't keep it zipped tend to come to a sticky end in politics anyway - it just takes the press longer to catch on, once they make a few enemies who can afford private detectives.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 01:16:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How do you prevent people meeting after hours to hash out an agreement which then they go through the kabuki of putting together "properly" when on the job, including the preparatory meetings for a summit?

Of all the ways of organizing banking, the worst is the one we have today — Mervyn King, 25 October 2010
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Dec 4th, 2010 at 04:20:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... by banning all contacts between members of any committee when they are out of sight of cameras and out of pickup range of microphones.

If the only place they are allowed privacy is the restroom, that's where the backroom deals will be made.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun Dec 5th, 2010 at 12:22:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is not possible to prevent the meetings and the conversations, but it is possible to legalize unannounced recording of conversations with any legislator or bureaucrat and the public release of same. This would serve to limit the damage of such dealings by, in effect, potentially making all conversations "on the record". This would provide a significant incentive for people to develop means of bargaining and negotiating that could withstand public scrutiny.  

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Dec 5th, 2010 at 01:22:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... to restrict backroom deals to long time members of the club, excluding newcomers from the real bargaining because of the risk that they will reveal the sordid details.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun Dec 5th, 2010 at 01:39:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Which would, in time, cause the club to atrophy and die. This is a problem if you see the existing system as producing valuable leadership and direction for the society. I don't.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Dec 5th, 2010 at 04:19:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My problem is in the damage done before "ultimately" happens.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun Dec 5th, 2010 at 04:26:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Can't force a political elite to be honest if they don't want to be.  

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot
by ATinNM on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 12:54:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So, what is needed in a crisis is the old Roman institution of the Dictator?

Of all the ways of organizing banking, the worst is the one we have today — Mervyn King, 25 October 2010
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 09:38:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Only in the sense that it would be a function that would only be invoked in extraordinary circumstances, and I haven't proposed mechanisms by which it might be invoked. My proposal was intended to insure that the full available range of options and analysis was brought to bear and was seriously considered. The enforcement mechanism was the release of recordings of the procedure at a later date, which would limit the "who coulda knowed" and "TINA" defenses at the cost of reputations and, possibily, legal liabilities for breach of fiduciary responsibility, if the members were properly sworn.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 10:41:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The problem with emergency expert cabinets is that they have to be selected. And the selection pressure will be against dissenting views, because everybody who is going to be doing the selecting is going to be from the old guard that was appointed when times were good and the position was a sinecure. Or even worse, they might realise that they are incompetent, and call in the respected experts - the IMF and ECB. shudder

- Jake

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

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 11:24:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There is, I think, a more general point.  Bureaucracies are great at handling the Routine and minor variations of same.  They can become seriously dysfunctional when trying to cope with extraordinary circumstances.  There should be no shame attached to admitting that a problem has gotten bigger than you can handle and that you need to call in experts who have a successful track-record of handling similar problems in other areas.  

The problem then becomes one of identifying the most appropriate experts, and unfortunately in this case the establishment experts have all become thoroughly neo-liberalised in recent times.  But that is also a bigger political problem - the decline of social democracy and Keynesian economics throughout "the West".

It seems that the CW is that to compete against China you have to become more like the Chinese... Remarkably that is not my experience of strategic thinking in big business - but it seems to have become the orthodoxy for Governments and academia.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 11:36:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Have you noticed that institutions with dictatorial power meant to be invoked in extraordinary circumstances tend to stay, if only by pretending these extraordinary circumstances still exist (like, say, war on terror...)?

"People only accept change when they are faced with necessity, and only recognize necessity when a crisis is upon them." - Jean Monnet
by Melanchthon on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 11:27:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, I have noticed that and am aware of the problems Jake references also. Both would have to be addressed in some way, or we could just continue as we are. A fine choice!

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 11:36:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Or they reinvent themselves - like NATO and Iran?  Fortunately, if you can hang around long enough an appropriate bogeyman will come along to justify your continued existence...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 11:41:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not really, ARGeezer's proposal is for a special kind of inquiry, laying out the options, and if I understand it laying out as many options as possible. That is quite a bit from a dictator (roman or otherwise).

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!
by A swedish kind of death on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 02:20:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
and I got to thinking: if during good times being in certain positions of responsibility is an unchallenging job, how do you ensure that people with the necessary skills and resolve (not necessarily individually, but certainly collectively) are where they need to be in a time of crisis?

A military analogy would be, how do you maintain combat-readiness in your defence forces after two generations of peace? And if you don't, who do you turn to when the unthinkable happens and you're invaded?

The military does it with drills and war games, and I could well imagine that this might work for a central bank/financial regulator as well. Every quarter, the ministry of finance would make a scenario in which a Charlie Foxtrot of random severity occurs, ranging from the insolvency of a small bank all the way through to systemic insolvency coupled with a run on the currency.

For maximum effect, you'd spring it on the financial regulator on a random day in the quarter, and the financial regulator would game out the scenario. The disadvantage of that approach is that, unlike the military in peacetime, the financial regulator has a day job. So running unscheduled exercises is going to be a real pain in the ass. It may be more sustainable to pick a long weekend (i.e. a weekend where Friday or Monday is also a bank holiday) somewhere in each quarter and hold the exercise then. Or simply cook up an exercise for each long weekend in the year.

If they pass an exercise, its weigh in the random draw is reduced, so the exercise schedule becomes biased towards the sorts of exercises they need to get better at.

The big problem is, of course, that you'd have to get someone to design realistic scenarios - and since nobody among Die Seriöse Leute predicted this Charlie Foxtrot in advance...

- Jake

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

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 11:39:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But didn't all those monster econometric models run on monster computers predict the crisis and provide all the options for sorting it (and measuring the success of alternate strategies) enabling a perfect optimisation of the required solution?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 11:47:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No.  

Neo-Classical Economics cannot predict Bubbles will happen much less what to do when they do.  

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 12:58:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I forgot the ;-)

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 01:02:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry, my snark detector is in the shop.  

:-)


Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 01:09:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Commas are free - you don't have to spare, them ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 01:13:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That might be of more use were they using models that actually gave time dependent outcomes that were similar to real world developments, such as those being developed by Steve Keen.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 11:50:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not talking about modelling. I'm talking about going through the motions of taking, say, Deutche Bank into receivership, divvying up its assets into good and bad, and shafting the unsecured creditors. Y'know, doing their job. Or working out a plan for how to deal with a Soros attack ahead of time, even if you believe that it can't happen in the real world.

I don't expect the military to be able to accurately predict whether the Russians will invade or not, but I do expect the military to have run enough exercises to convince themselves that they know how to hurt the Russians if they did decide to invade, for whatever obscure reason. Hell, the military has scenarios for fighting a nuclear war, which is probably about the most pointless sort of war game you can imagine - if people start lobbing around megatons, you lose. Even if you win.

- Jake

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

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 12:21:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Those things certainly would help. An FDR type audit of all the banks -- for real -- not a bunch of phony stress test PR exercises. But still, being able to accurately model even the shape of the curve for various economic parameters that would result from various actions would be helpful. Even with three sector dynamic models Steve acheives that. Calibrating the response will take longer. Especially if he is the only one doing it.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 01:52:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Lots of things might be helpful. But the response to a currency run or an intervention against a TBTF bank is something you can drill even if your macroeconomic models are shit. You can simply download a bank's balance sheet and declare this or that asset class to be so-and-so much impaired (or, if you want an extra layer of realism, only give this information to the referee, and have people figure it out on their own from trying to "sell" the assets to the referee).

- Jake

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

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 02:26:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... I don't want the central bank or financial regulator to be doing macroeconomic modelling. I want them to kill financial bubbles, I want them to kill aggressive accounting in the financial sector, I want them to make sure that depositors' money isn't used for gambling and I want them to take insolvent banks through bankruptcy.

Macroeconomic modelling is the Treasury's job. The CB and FR do not need macroeconomic models to do the jobs I want them to do, and if they feel the need for the results of macroeconomic modelling, they can ask the Treasury to do a run for them. Macroeconomic policy is properly the Treasury's turf, and I don't want the CB and FR developing a parallel capability in that area. That would almost inevitably lead lead to a sort of mission creep that I consider harmful in an institution that is traditionally not particularly democratically accountable.

- Jake

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

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 02:39:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
OK then, let the treasury use models that actually work.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 02:56:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You know I'm with you on that.

But good macro is preventative more than it is curative. What I'm talking about here is crisis management, and you don't need good macro models for that - all you need is a firm political will to screw over bondholders and use the power of the sovereign to restore full employment. After you've arrested the rise in unemployment, you can start firing up your macro models to develop medium-term policies.

- Jake

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

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 03:06:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
To my knowledge, current as of 2007, the relation between macroeconomic models and policies and their determinative affect on microeconomic activity has never been proven.  All papers demonstrating such are ex post facto.

If there IS a paper I'd be eager to read it.

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 03:05:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Damn it all.

I meant an NCE paper.

There are UnSerious People who have written such.


Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 03:11:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't want the central bank or financial regulator to be doing macroeconomic modelling.

In the case of Ireland and Greece, were capable macro modeling of the sort I suggested performed on the "resolutions" imposed by the ECB and IMF in those cases, it would be clear what an ineffectual disaster the policies would be and that the chief result will be gratuitous damage to the societies involved via a debt-deflation death spiral. Use of such models would only strengthen the hand of the IMF, who, interestingly, seems to have been the voice of moderation in these cases, not having banks for which it is directly responsible which might take a haircut on bonds they hold.

One of the advantages of having useless theories and models is that it facilitates an Alice in Wonderland situation in which everything means exactly what the relevant authority says it means.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Dec 4th, 2010 at 12:41:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But I don't want central banks to recommend structural adjustment programmes and fiscal austerity. That's none of their business. They're there to kill insolvent banks and print money for the government. That's all I want them to do. The fact that the ECB is the entity with the greatest influence on federal-level EU macroeconomic planning is a disgrace and a perversion of the proper way to run an industrial state.

The IMF is a different sort of story - they should be doing macro, and they should be doing it right. (But they should never have been involved in an internal €-zone crisis in the first place...)

- Jake

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

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Dec 4th, 2010 at 01:32:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And I wholly agree with this. We need a reassertion of the political in political economy. But, given the existing presumptions, economics has to be governed entirely by its own internal rules -- no matter that this is bunk, has never an will never really work -- at least for the good of the overall society. Supposedly autonomous economics HAS been a very effective smoke screen for the looting of societies, however.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Dec 4th, 2010 at 05:06:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A military analogy would be, how do you maintain combat-readiness in your defence forces after two generations of peace? And if you don't, who do you turn to when the unthinkable happens and you're invaded?

You make the training as close to the real thing as you can. Grueling training exercises, live fire with heavy artillery over your heads as you advance, and so on.

What the central bank equivalence of this would be, I do not know.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 02:44:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Pretend that you are a small, open economy somewhere in South-East Asia in 1997.

- Jake

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

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 03:08:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Since the small southeast Asian economies collapsed in 1997 I assume this is snark & having been bit once, already today, I refuse to play.

:-)


Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 03:20:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
(Note: SE Asia was rescued by massive injection of outside capital flows.  Indonesian companies were picked-up for as low as 10 cents on the dollar -- IIRC.)

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot
by ATinNM on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 03:22:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's not.

Starvid wanted an example of a live-fire exercise. Simulating the reaction to a 1997 SE Asia style collapse would be an excellent exercise for a central banker.

- Jake

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

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 03:38:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Now we have the 2007-present crisis to play with, too...

Of all the ways of organizing banking, the worst is the one we have today — Mervyn King, 25 October 2010
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Dec 4th, 2010 at 04:27:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And that is one advantage of running exercises: Even if your macro models are garbage, and your economics profession is empirically bankrupt, you can still push for an upgrade of the exercise scenarios whenever an economy or two blows up in a sufficiently spectacular fashion somewhere in the world. "Nobody could have predicted that this would happen (to white people)" is a weaksauce excuse when you're drilling four "unthinkable" scenarios every year.

It also provides a more graceful out for the people who didn't see the crash coming. Rather than having to discard their entire academic career because it's garbage, they can say "well, I sure didn't see that coming, but let's update out scenarios to make sure we'll be ready to deal with it next time." While not as viscerally satisfying as purging the morons, it would go a long way towards improving the financial regulator's combat readiness.

- Jake

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

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Dec 4th, 2010 at 10:58:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Except, when they conducted the banking stress tests earlier this year they still managed to not stress too much in directions that they knew were problematic...

Of all the ways of organizing banking, the worst is the one we have today — Mervyn King, 25 October 2010
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Dec 4th, 2010 at 11:20:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah yes, but that would only undermine CONFIDENCE, and whatever else, we mustn't stress the investors...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Dec 4th, 2010 at 11:27:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You know, I would like to see Zapatero employ on the financial sector the tactics he deployed against the air traffic controllers today...

Of all the ways of organizing banking, the worst is the one we have today — Mervyn King, 25 October 2010
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Dec 4th, 2010 at 02:50:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, yeah, that's why you need to drill people ahead of time. So they don't make that sort of newbie mistakes next time.

- Jake

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

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Dec 4th, 2010 at 12:23:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In either the case of the US or European Stress Tests, calling the methodology employed "a rookie mistake" is being generous in your assumptions about the intent and probably overly harsh in your assumptions about their competence. I see little evidence that, in either case, the intent was to test a reasonable worst case situation, but rather to insure that all but the most laughable cases got a pass, and there was a struggle about even the laughable cases, such as Hypo bank.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Dec 4th, 2010 at 12:53:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
hey econo-wonkers, here's a dumb question from the bleachers:

what is the equivalent of Wall St. in the EU?

are there parallels with the ECB?

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Dec 7th, 2010 at 05:28:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"The City" - now being challenged by Frankfurt

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Dec 7th, 2010 at 06:19:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Alternatively, you can engage your troops in small-scale conflicts far from your country (say, Afghanistan)....

"People only accept change when they are faced with necessity, and only recognize necessity when a crisis is upon them." - Jean Monnet
by Melanchthon on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 03:20:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, that gives you the wrong skills. COIN is a completely different game than conventional war. Just ask Georgia...

(even if you obviously will learn some good things)

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 05:06:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah, but they're not doing COIN in Afghanistan...

- Jake

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

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 05:09:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Since McCrystal/Obama, they are.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Sat Dec 4th, 2010 at 07:04:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In this context, it is irrelevant. What matters is what your enemy is doing, and there's certainly not doing conventional war.
by gk (g k quattro due due sette "at" gmail.com) on Sat Dec 4th, 2010 at 07:18:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Starvid:
What the central bank equivalence of this would be, I do not know.

maybe just studying history would be enough!

i am watching a doc on arte about how the germans held up the french franc for a year in '93, and protected it from speculators.

fascinating...

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Dec 7th, 2010 at 06:21:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's how it works.

Politicians are a team.  They are the 'front-man' as well as the leader of the team.  As such they don't have the time to learn everything about everything.  That's why they have a staff.  And why the Chief of Staff is a critically important position.  It's the CoS's job to gather a group of people around "His/Her Guy/Gal" having the technical and detailed knowledge and expertise one individual cannot have and has no hope of having.  

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 12:48:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know about your analysis of the attitude to the EU or Sinn Fein.

Sinn Fein are picking up votes because there's a good number of people who can't vote for Fianna Fail this time and won't vote for Labour or Fine Gael for class - Labour is very middle class and a bit West Brit - or historical reasons. Add in a bit of a nationalist leaning and you end up voting for Sinn Fein.

How much blame the EU is going to get is an interesting question.

The personal past may be more important for the chances of a Labour/Sinn Fein government than the political past. Many of the senior Labour figures come from the Democratic Left party which came from the Offical Sinn Fein movement and later merged into the Labour party.

The relationship between Official Sinn Fein and Provisional Sinn Fein - the Provisional IRA linked party that Adams is in - was less than entirely friendly. On the other hand, this is maybe the best chance ever for a Labour Taoiseach and to completely rewrite the rules of Irish politics, so I suspect that will be sufficient to overcome any of Labour's or Sinn Fein's objections. There's enough Labour supporters like me who would normally abhor Sinn Fein but are willing to hold our noses this time around, given the alternatives.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 04:48:09 AM EST
This started out as a simple report on an opinion poll which expanded to explain the difficulty of forecasting seat outcomes from headline % vote share data.  I then began speculating on the likely outcome of such a shift in voting patterns but surprised even myself by my conclusion - that the result was likely to be a tectonic shift in Irish attitudes to the EU  - despite the fact that Fine Gael and Labour are traditionally very Europhile.

Sinn Fein are staring to give a concrete political expression to the xenophobic, Nationalist, and atavistic vote that appeared in a more inchoate form in the NO votes on EU referenda.  I can't see their rise not effecting how even a Fine Gael Labour government would act.  Gerry Adams would be Leader of the Opposition on the basis of these figures after all...

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 05:19:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sinn Fein try quite hard to avoid xenophobia, of a sort. They're pretty internationalist in an old fashioned way. Doesn't mean some of their support isn't of that type, but the party seem to be surprisingly ok on that front. In theory at least.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 08:00:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Adams/McGuinness are very able people and seem to have a long term vision of Sinn Fein as an all-Ireland, nationalist but progressive political force.  I do not underestimate their achievement in weaning Sinn Fein away from the hard men of the physical force tradition and negotiating successfully with hardline Loyalists who basically don't want to talk to them anyway.

Most southern politicians can only dream at an achievement like that and are political spoilt children who have inherited their positions of power by comparison. However SF will also seek to hoover up votes wherever they can and my sense is that virtually all of the 30%+ hard no vote in the EU referenda is up for grabs as all the other parties are v. pro-EU.

So SF will at least have to pander to the hard-line Nationalist, xenophobic, and atavistic vote even if they end up implementing more traditional left wing policies.  They will, of course, not oppose the EU per se - just our current neo-lib model of it - so I do not necessarily have a problem with that.

However I see a more tough minded and less fawning approach to the EU in the future - and great difficulty in passing another EU related referendum unless it is clearly in our national interest.  The major change will be that Sinn Fein - if they lead the opposition - will almost have the power of veto on any new such Treaty, and Merkel will find that Adams is a much tougher negotiator than she has ever had to deal with in the past.  Think of it as requiring Merkel to negotiate with Die Linke Partei in Germany to form a Government...

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 08:39:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
However I see a more tough minded and less fawning approach to the EU in the future

You say that like it's a bad thing.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 09:17:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 09:29:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
An informative back and forth from two Irish. Thanks to both.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Dec 4th, 2010 at 12:55:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
However I see a more tough minded and less fawning approach to the EU in the future

By "the EU" do you mean the NCE consensus within the EU or the EU as a whole?


Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 01:06:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Effectively the neo-con consensus although it may be difficult to distinguish the two.  Obviously a key to successful negotiation is to identify potential allies as well as adversaries, but who (within the EU establishment) has come out in support of enforcing haircuts on Irish bank bondholders or ECB loans at sustainable interest rates or quantitative easing on a realistic scale to provide greater liquidity...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 01:27:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
a bit West Brit

What does this mean in Ireland?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 09:34:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
West Brit - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
West Brit (abbreviation for West British) is a pejorative term for an Irish person perceived by some of his countrymen as too anglophile in matters of culture or politics.[1]

West Brit - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"West Brit" is today used by Irish people to criticise a variety of perceived faults:

Generally a humorous or sarcastic reference to someone who is perceived as being a bit posh, well spoken, or socially aspiring ... its the post colonial way to fight off colonial cultural assimilation...  

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 09:45:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... while holding a copy of the Sun rushing home to watch Coronation Street and the X-factor.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 11:06:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You must move in different circles.  The West Brits around here are altogether more refined.  They even disdain their kids watching X factor...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 11:49:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, no, I mean the ones using the term "West Brit".
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 12:02:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Culturally, Ireland is a region of the UK.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 12:03:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
your on the SF watch list after a remark like that!

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Dec 3rd, 2010 at 12:10:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A much more apposite slur these days would be East Yank.  The cultural cringe is all towards the US these days, with them dominating cultural attitudes, as well are representing some imagined entrepreneurial utopia.
by Pope Epopt on Sat Dec 4th, 2010 at 08:17:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There might have been quite a bit of that in some circles during the Celtic Tiger - I'm not sure there are many extolling such virtues right now - perhaps excluding some Fine Gaelers who think the current crisis is all about cutting public services...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Dec 4th, 2010 at 09:25:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... have not taken advantage to cut all cut-able services? For shame, what slackers.

I wonder if I'll live to see the Mei Guo Province Americans.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun Dec 5th, 2010 at 01:44:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Much as I have given up on the USA, I like the Peoples's Republic even less.  Both seem intent on proving that democracy is an outdated concept.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Dec 5th, 2010 at 02:26:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Its not a prospect I look forward to with glee ... I'd rather the US pull back on its Empire and start pushing toward a sustainable system to takes its place, instead.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun Dec 5th, 2010 at 04:22:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think, since the internet removed all excuses about lacking information, that the electorate has been the one revealing demoocracy as an outdated concept.

No one can plead they didn't know what was going on.

Align culture with our nature.

by ormondotvos (ormond no spam lmi net no spam) on Tue Dec 7th, 2010 at 08:54:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
the fall of Soviet-inspired communism have singularly lacked any credible alternance, generally by design and at the elite's behest, I think it fairly clear that the so-called Democratic deficit we all seem to see in our various countries is a feature, not a flaw, in our societies, one whose primary intent is not to express the will of the people, but rather, as Noam Chomsky might put it, manufacture consent.

I think we do progress a disservice when we reify the concept of democracy.

by redstar on Wed Dec 8th, 2010 at 05:10:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If marketing is the art of manufacturing happiness with a product which is anything but what it claims to be, then perhaps politics is becoming the art of manufacturing consent to a "reality" which is anything but what it claims to be.

I think a diary on the concept of the reification of democracy and its implications for "progress" is warranted, Redstar! My Althusser isn't up to much...

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Dec 8th, 2010 at 07:03:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
...drawing more from Lukacs in my case, unfashionable as that may be.
by redstar on Wed Dec 8th, 2010 at 07:53:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Pragmatically, Democracy is electoral selection among rival political elites. It is better than having selection among rival political elites by raw force, but the reflection of the "will of the people" is an idealized aspiration of Democracy, not a concrete description of Democracy.

And reifying the idealization of Democracy obscures the fact that there is a constant struggle by an incumbent political establishment to narrow the range of available choice, which has to be constantly fought against by movements in civil society to maintain a broader range of available choice.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Wed Dec 8th, 2010 at 12:38:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Your comment neatly encapsulates current attempts by the Dublin elite to exclude Sinn Fein from the range of acceptable "realistic" alternatives.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Dec 8th, 2010 at 01:06:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Political parties are patronage networks and little else.

Policy-oriented or ideological parties cannot hope to be major political parties.

Of all the ways of organizing banking, the worst is the one we have today — Mervyn King, 25 October 2010

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Dec 8th, 2010 at 02:25:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A movement can hope to capture a political party for a period, but in the end either the movement ends up being captured or the party ends up getting sidetracked in favor of another.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Wed Dec 8th, 2010 at 06:41:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Given that western democracies since the fall of Soviet-inspired communism have lacked any credible alternative

Except that it wasn't a credible alternative.  There was the benefit of providing pressure for a stronger welfare state and greater income equality, but in states where the communists were powerful it made it much more difficult for the left to come to power.  Think Italy, or even France where a straight left wing government didn't get into power until 1981.    Furthermore, the existence of communism provided pressure for increased domestic repression.

I think we do progress a disservice when we reify the concept of democracy.

Here I really think that there is no credible alternative.  A non democratic state, by its very nature has to engage in a greater degree of domestic repression to maintain elite power than a democratic one.  In an authoritarian state, even a left wing one, all of us would either be keeping our mouths shut online, or we'd be on a path to jail.  Workers would have even less right to organize and strike than they do now.  The right to public protest against government policies would be gone.

 

by MarekNYC on Wed Dec 8th, 2010 at 01:19:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The alternative to a reified concept of democracy is an operative or functional concept of democracy. This involves seeing and showing more of how electoral democracies have acted over history and continue to act and less on glorious ideals that grossly fail to exist in practice. Given the indoctrination pressures on secondary education, the last chance for most is usually college political science or history courses, but that is iffy.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Dec 8th, 2010 at 02:20:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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