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Ireland becoming a socialist state?

by Frank Schnittger Tue Mar 24th, 2020 at 10:45:56 PM EST

The Irish government, led by the most conservative major party in the state, has instituted a number of emergency measures to combat the Covid-19 pandemic:

  1. The government will fund 70% of workers salaries up to a maximum of €410 per week tax free in businesses effected by the crisis.
  2. Social welfare, unemployment, and sick pay is increased from €203 per week to €350 p.w.
  3. The government is taking over all private hospitals and incorporating them into the public hospital system for the duration of the crisis.
  4. A rent freeze and ban on evictions.
  5. The cost of these measures is estimated to be €3.7 Billion over the next 12 weeks - greater than the total annual budget surplus estimated prior to the crisis.

So the government is conceding the principle of a basic social living wage and a single tier universal health care system - in line with the long standing demands of socialist parties in Ireland. Although intended as temporary measures, once these principles have been established, it will be very difficult for any government to row back on them in the future.

If €203 per week is acknowledged as insufficient to live on now, how can any government revert to it later? If private hospitals can be incorporated into the public health system now, how can any government revert to the long waiting lists for treatment that were endemic in the under-resourced public health care system of the past?

Of course future conservative governments can argue that what is affordable for a limited period in a crisis and financed by borrowing is not going to be sustainable in the longer term. But the counter argument will be "why not increase corporate, wealth, and higher income taxes to fund them going forward?" A number of ideological red lines have been crossed, and it is going to be very difficult for any government to walk back over those lines in the future.

Leo calls a nation to double arms as it faces Covid-1916
Leo Varadkar was asked if he had anything to say to reassure people at home who will be afraid.

"I think we're all a little bit afraid and it's perfectly natural and normal to be a little bit afraid. You know, we can all see what's happening in Spain, what's happening in Italy, only two or three hours' flight from here and that frightens us all."

Contrast his answer with Donald Trump's when the US president was asked the same question last week.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Mar 24th, 2020 at 11:21:30 PM EST
Trump is done by Easter
WHO sees the US as new epicenter of CoV-2 outbreak
Stats to date: watch death rate per 1M population:
Germany - 1.5
USA - 1.8
China - 2.35 (final)
UK - 5.0
Netherlands - 12.4
France - 12.8
Iran - 22.9
Spain - 50.0
Italy - 101.0

The number of deaths in the US will likely total 30K by June.

by Oui on Wed Mar 25th, 2020 at 12:11:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is just going to make Trump stronger. The virus has been politicized, and anything that happens is going to be read through a partisan lens. If nobody dies, than the Dems just overreacted like the stupid pansy scolds we know they are. If everybody dies, then the stupid dems destroyed the economy for nothing, This is going to be extra convincing to everyone who resented being locked up at home, and especially to a lot of the people whose small business was ruined.
by Zwackus on Wed Mar 25th, 2020 at 11:16:18 AM EST
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I agree with the general premise, but it doesn't even have to be the dems. Trump can campaign against the do-nothing Congress. The lines write themselves.
by generic on Wed Mar 25th, 2020 at 11:28:42 AM EST
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In practice some states will do better than others, and this may (or may not) correlate with the preventative measures they have taken. Pretty soon we'll know who is handling this better than others and if the US ends up losing more lives than anyone else this is not going to look good for Trump.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Mar 25th, 2020 at 02:59:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Trump virus ravaging many States, has already caused MORE deaths per capita than China where the Wuhan virus is at a stand still ... next 3 weeks will be devastating ... no turning back the clock, urgent need to alleviate suffering. No empathy by the Chief, thus don't expect much. Doctor's distancing ... Trump keeps Dr. Fauci more than an arm's length away. 😐

Spain in absolute numbers has surpassed China today.

With the Easter reces celebrations, Trump will succeed to trigger the predicted second wave much earlier ...

by Oui on Wed Mar 25th, 2020 at 03:14:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Oui on Wed Mar 25th, 2020 at 03:25:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Oui on Wed Mar 25th, 2020 at 03:27:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by generic on Wed Mar 25th, 2020 at 06:24:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yep. He goes on TV, lies about stuff, and that's really all he needs to do, because he lives in a fact free bubble and the facts are hard to see for most people in their real lives because they are social-scale systemic facts which are nearly invisible even to dedicated researchers.
by Zwackus on Thu Mar 26th, 2020 at 01:19:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And historically that has worked. But to be fair, all the old crisis politicians slayed on the TV for all practical purposes only existed on the TV. Terrorism is probably the best example, but I'd include the whole category of foreigner-crimes. This has the potential of really affecting everyone and not in an abstract way either. Other outcomes are possible, though I wouldn't bet on it yet.

by generic on Thu Mar 26th, 2020 at 09:51:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Nothing off limits in Varadkar plan to stem coronavirus
Social distancing is working - chief medical officer Tony Holohan said that the average number of close contacts among those with the virus has dropped from 20 to five - but the truth is that neither politicians nor scientists know if it's working quickly enough. The big surge of cases has yet to hit the hospitals.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Mar 25th, 2020 at 12:40:34 AM EST
Same in France : a neolib government converted overnight to a strong public sector and a protective social system. A big shift in the Overton window.

But perhaps more significant in the medium term is the breaking of austerity : the admission that what is written in stone : 3% deficit and all that : can just be overridden like that, in the service of a greater imperative.

And with all due respect to the thousands dead and yet to die, there is a greater imperative confronting modern civilisation, and we all know it.

Financing a Green New Deal just got a whole lot easier.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Wed Mar 25th, 2020 at 06:54:01 AM EST
What was sold as economic necessity was always a political choice...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Mar 25th, 2020 at 10:12:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
However (should we say "en même temps"?), the same neolib government has issued decrees relaxing a number of labor protection rules about maximum working hours (up to 60 per week) and other safeguards. These kind of war time "exceptions" tend to stick around once the crisis is over.

To be fair, the bulk of the measures are still socialist-like: unemployment benefits extended without having to justify, government financed furlough rather than layoffs, extra pay for those workers on the front line.

Macron just announced on TV "a major plan to finance and improve hospitals and healthcare workers careers"; a day late and a euro short.

by Bernard on Wed Mar 25th, 2020 at 07:26:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No to Corona bonds

Shot down by the usual suspects.

FRANKFURT -- Europe's currency union is passing up what could be its last chance to address its fatal flaw.

Eurozone finance ministers on Tuesday batted away suggestions that the coronavirus pandemic could be the catalyst for joint debt instruments, which would be the definitive statement that its members will stand by each other financially whatever happens.

Instead, the Eurogroup ministers made clear that whatever national governments have to spend to beat the virus, it will ultimately be for them to pay back.

the difference in borrowing costs will persist as long as a shared debt instrument -- along with other elements of a fiscal union to accompany the euro -- are off the table.

Nine EU prime ministers, including those of Italy, France and Spain, on Wednesday called for such a bond to raise money for battling the economic fallout. They pushed the idea in a letter ahead of a videoconference summit meeting Thursday.

Northern skeptics are still lined up against the notion. After initially noncommittal noises from Chancellor Angela Merkel, German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier told Handelsblatt this week that talk of "corona bonds" was "a phantom debate."

A corona bond would come with a guarantee from all member countries. That would put the financial firepower of Germany and the Netherlands behind a credit that might be used mostly to support other, weaker economies.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Thu Mar 26th, 2020 at 11:25:43 AM EST
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The EU is as dead as Joe Biden and it's time to learn Chinese.
by generic on Thu Mar 26th, 2020 at 12:38:49 PM EST
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The Silk Route is near ...

Even Putin is traveling the road into heartland Europe where normally the US would operate ... time's a-changing.

From Russia with Love - Putin

In an age of White House lies and propaganda, the Trump era ...

    According to accounts from several social media platforms, the State Department has been reluctant to share evidence of disinformation, making it difficult for Americans to know what to look out for. As the novel coronavirus outbreak has grown in recent weeks, the State Department has informed the press of conspiracy theories about the outbreak that are being spread on social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Many of the accounts spreading these theories appear to be from Russia, the State Department says.

Similar criticism came from US leadership about China, Wuhan and the Democratic hoax.

by Oui on Thu Mar 26th, 2020 at 01:05:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
From Trump's heartland ...

by Oui on Thu Mar 26th, 2020 at 01:05:52 PM EST
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Roubini shock horror doom :

governments need to deploy massive fiscal stimulus, including through "helicopter drops" of direct cash disbursements to households. Given the size of the economic shock, fiscal deficits in advanced economies will need to increase from 2-3% of GDP to about 10% or more. Only central governments have balance sheets large and strong enough to prevent the private sector's collapse.
But these deficit-financed interventions must be fully monetised. If they are financed through standard government debt, interest rates would rise sharply, and the recovery would be smothered in its cradle. Given the circumstances, interventions long proposed by leftists of the Modern Monetary Theory school, including helicopter drops, have become mainstream.

Some brains will implode, and it's about time.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Wed Mar 25th, 2020 at 09:51:26 AM EST
Corbyn: "Thank you for your kind words although it sounds as an orbituary ... I will still be around, my voice will not be stilled and I will work for a just society and I will campaign for it."

UK coronavirus live: Boris Johnson faces MPs in Jeremy Corbyn's last PMQs as leader of opposition

by Oui on Wed Mar 25th, 2020 at 12:15:11 PM EST
The new numbers ...

Stats to date: watch death rate per 1M population:
Germany - 1.92. [1.5]
USA - 2.45. [1.8]
China - 2.36. [2.35]
UK - 6.4. [5.0]
Netherlands* - 16.1. [12.4]
France - 16.5  [12.8]
Iran - 23.6  [22.9]
Spain - 64.0  [50.0]
Italy - 113.0  [101.0]

Graphic of major cities - here

The number of deaths in the US will likely total 30K by June.

* Three Northern provinces in The Netherlands have an insignificant number of cases and deaths aided by extensive testing.

by Oui on Wed Mar 25th, 2020 at 02:38:52 PM EST
Re: France figures. The reported deaths corresponds to those who died at an hospital. Probably as many, possibly more elderly people have died in nursing homes. The Health ministry indicated they are looking at adding the numbers from nursing homes, assuming that the victims are tested, even post mortem, which we know is not systematic.

Northern provinces in The Netherlands: do they have strict confinement and social distancing measures in place? If not, it's only a matter of weeks, possibly less, until they reach a similar situation as the provinces south of the Rhine.

by Bernard on Wed Mar 25th, 2020 at 07:36:23 PM EST
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Protestants, especially Calvinists, tend to be more "standoffish" than Catholics and so should have little difficultly maintaining "social distancing" protocols. It's their default modus operandum. Most Catholics in Italy, Spain and Ireland tend to be more gregarious, socialise a lot, kiss on both cheeks and shake hold hands a lot, hug and embrace. Corona Virus could provoke a second reformation and a return to Victorian values - gloved hands, formal etiquette, obsessive cleanliness, curtsies and bowing rather than hugs and kisses... Hooped dresses that keep "gentlemen" at least a metre away... :-)

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Mar 25th, 2020 at 08:31:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
See my diary ... University Medical Center of Groningen had procured their own test kits and followed WHO policy of testing, testing and NOT the poor and less prepared guidance from RIVM and The Hague ...

Northern provinces to step up testing to 'search and contain' coronavirus | Dutch News |

My recent diary - Trump: It's About #Me, Not Others

Key words | Friese kaaskoppen | Stugge Drentenaar | Uithoek | St. Bonifatius | Dokkum |

by Oui on Wed Mar 25th, 2020 at 08:58:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Spanish Flu ... Philadelphia redux! 😟

Spain's coronavirus week: Deaths rise tenfold in days

by Oui on Wed Mar 25th, 2020 at 09:10:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Coronavirus has created an opening for a fairer health service (Subscriber only).
It took a crisis as cruel and enormous as the one we are facing to finally hear an Irish minister announce a national health service.

In asserting this week that all private hospitals would be public or run by the State for the duration of the pandemic, Simon Harris said "There can be no public versus private here", alongside the Taoiseach's commitment that "public and private patients will be treated equally".

The Taoiseach also invoked the ghosts of the War of Independence era; that it is necessary for us to match "their courage or example" and that we can surpass them in showing "our greatest generation was not in the past". One way to give meaning to that is to ensure this pandemic permanently alters the approach to equality of health access and care.


But the politics of Irish healthcare ensured the War of Independence veterans never achieved a national health service based on equality between all patients, as powerful vested interests, including senior members of the Catholic Church and private medical practitioners, joined forces to supposedly defend the interests of patients against "state bureaucracy" or "socialised medicine".

Then, and for decades afterwards, reform of the health services was bedevilled by the haughty and destructive sulks and blocking mechanisms of powerful interest groups who refused to embrace change in the interests of the wider community and often emerged triumphant from encounters with reforming politicians.


This requires not just crisis leadership, but ongoing leadership: as the nurses collectively put it in their submission to the Oireachtas healthcare committee: "Shaping, forming and sustaining this single-tiered, universally accessible, public health service (including ownership and delivery) will require political consensus stretching far beyond the normal electoral cycle.

"It will require this, and future, governments, and oppositions, to accept that the transformational change required cannot be interfered with for political reasons."

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Mar 27th, 2020 at 10:38:35 AM EST
A parallel can be made between the medical oligarchy, visibly in Ireland but in many other countries for sure, and the religious oligarchy that Ireland has freed itself from.

The same mechanisms are at work : authority figures who make the rules, ostensibly because they know best, but -- coincidentally no doubt -- in their own best interest. It's not surprising that the two oligarchies, medical and religious, colluded, all the better to reinforce each other and avoid scrutiny.

In France, it could be argued that the doctors have combined the two roles, having the upper hand not only on matters concerning the organisation of the health sector, but on ethical matters, being the high priests of life and death in an atheist state.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Mon Mar 30th, 2020 at 09:29:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Paschal Donohoe is Minister for Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform and is probably one of the few Ministers for Finance in the world who has read, never mind written a generally favourable review of Thomas Piketty's lengthy tome: Capital and Ideology. At least he is open to ideas and capable of absorbing complex arguments.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Mar 27th, 2020 at 10:50:42 AM EST
From neolib Politico.eu, of all places:

In Spain, austerity legacy cripples coronavirus fight

That changed in 2011, as the economy spiralled downward and a newly elected conservative Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy embarked on a program of heavy spending cuts. He started by slashing a combined €10 billion from the health and education budgets and kept up an austerity program for much of his tenure, which ended in 2018.

Investment in the health care sector has dropped from 6.8 percent of GDP in 2009 to 5.9 percent in the government's most recent draft budget -- far below the current EU average spending of 7.5 percent of GDP.

As a result of the cuts, a "growing number of newly trained doctors were unemployed or migrating to other countries," an EU report noted last year.

The austerity measures have also led to a number of shortages, specifically a decline in the number of hospital beds and a rise in temporary contracts for doctors and nurses, the report said.

by Bernard on Sat Mar 28th, 2020 at 05:30:53 PM EST

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