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Capitalism and the Referendum on the European Fiscal Compact – Some Simple Points

Capitalism and the Referendum on the European Fiscal Compact

As I started reading the report on thereferendum in the Irish Times, I noticed another item that said: “Fall in house prices accelerating”. Great! Thousands of mortgage holders, who bought a house just to put a roof over their family’s heads, are in further misery.  People who were stuck in a high and speculative investor-driven rental market, people who thought buying a home made sense, have been buried deeper in negative equity - the same people who suffered levies, cuts and job losses for the benefit of banks, builders and bond holders; the very same people whose mortgage debts (real money) to the banks stayed the same while all their income and the value of their homes kept dropping.  Not a few, but thousands of people are at the point of losing their family homes. They can’t sell them, they can’t pay for them but they are now asked to pay another €100 (to begin with) for their homes.

This is the sort of madness we are living in - a madness that manufactures all sorts of ‘experts’, opinions and arguments to justify the suffering of people... And then we are asked by our very ‘patriotic’ rulers to spend just another €5 extra each time we go shopping. What a brilliant idea! But just which fiver should these people spend? The one they don’t have or the one they just gave to a bond holder?

I thought these two news items were so closely linked.

Capitalism has a major contradiction (on top of being an unsustainable model, that is always open to crises; that produces extreme poverty for many and extreme wealth for few; that speculates and gambles and calls it “investment” ; that causes inequality in basic human needs such as education, health; that is systematically destroying the environment): When it comes to profit making (our media will call this the “good times”) it does not want any state intervention in the economy, any regulation, democratic scrutiny and control. “The smaller the state is, the better it is” say the capitalists. They argue “let the national and international markets freely trade in a free and undisturbed environment with as little accountability as possible to anyone”.  Experts tell the ‘simple’ folks that it is all good. It is all under control...

But then, the free market trading doesn’t go so well. Profits don’t go up as planned, continued growth becomes less continuous, competition hurts and money stops making more money via speculative exchanges. Capitalists stop playing the game. They sit on the wealth they have. And they go on strike.

Capitalism suddenly enters its other phase. It demands that the states regulate the markets. It demands that the free trade of the markets be organised by states. It wants more national fiscal laws to sort things out. Capitalists realise that as they traded internationally, their problems are also international. Now they want international laws and regulations. Their way of regulation is not in the form of taxing the rich, or investing in job creation. Their regulations are to control the people and rescue the markets. Their fiscal laws are to introduce cuts and levies. They suddenly need people to pay and the states to force people to comply. They want private profits but public debt. Their way means freedom for making profits but no freedom for people to say NO...

The European Fiscal Compact is supposed to bring about a near-zero public deficit for member states. This, supposedly, is for continuing economic stability and recovery. This comes at a time, after three years of austerity measures, when even the dogs on the street know that all of their expert measures have only increased the economic instability and reduced the path to a proper recovery.

There are two different meanings to ‘stability and recovery’. One meaning is for the Capitalists. They understand it as “a return to excessive profit making and avoidance of all responsibility for their actions”. The other meaning is for ordinary people: “To change the system completely where all the people have proper public services, jobs and a happy and meaningful life”.

The Taoiseach, while denying that this treaty will introduce further austerity says, ‘’I believe it is in Ireland’s national interest that this treaty be approved."

And the very same dogs on the street laugh out loud: “It is in our national interest to rescue (in billions) the unknown, non-national bond holders, somewhere around the world?”

The Labour side-kick owns up to the propaganda and repeats his master’s words: “The referendum would come down to a vote for economic growth and stability. We now have an opportunity to go beyond casino capitalism” 

Street dogs keep laughing: “Why don’t you shut down the casino instead of bringing in more non-gamblers money so that gamblers can go back to their game?”

An ex-master shows a little character by saying "I think it's the right decision and one that shouldn't have required legal advice in my view". He continues to criticise the master about the short notice before the announcement. But he says we must vote “Yes”. As an ex-master that’s all he can say...

Street dogs are angry this time. Ready to bite...

The Forty shades of the Irish Greens say “it would seek support for a Yes vote on the referendum“, with the leader (of whom) stating that “the measures provided for in the fiscal compact are in the national interest”.

Street dogs really want to go vegetarian this time: “Since when have the Greens become blue?” I suppose they were never red enough to be green.

While the finance chief emphasizes that “a vote on the treaty would effectively be a vote on Ireland's membership of the euro” Our street dogs are baffled: “Effectively?” Is it or is it not? Is the referendum on “staying in the Euro” or not?

And ultimately the ‘independent’ and ‘objective’ newspaper has the final say in all of this: “A rejection could damage Dublin's long-term funding prospects and cast doubt on the country's commitment to the single currency

Dogs are supposed to be really scared...The ‘objective’ and ‘analytical’ media has already made up its mind and chosen its side…

I would argue that most of the national / European decisions and measures are political. It is not about the lack of money or funds. It is about who will benefit from the outcome of this process and who has to pay for it. Europe, the ECB and the IMF, since the beginning of this crisis, have introduced measure after measure. None of them have worked. Europe now has gone a further step and started introducing anti-democratic controls over sovereign nations. Incompetent, pro-wealth, but somehow elected rulers have been replaced with another set of incompetent and unelected rulers. We not only have the financial burden to carry on our shoulders, but also the great task of fighting for democracy and peoples’ control of their future.

Our leaders, financial gurus and executives want us to believe that Europe and the unaccountable, unelected experts know what they are doing. They want us to think that the only solution in such great crisis must come from these people at the top. They also try to scare us into giving up our challenges and our claim on how the country should be run.  “You may elect the political leaders but we will fly in unknown bureaucrats to make the decisions”is the meaning of this treaty.

This crisis and the decisions of our rulers are political. It is about choices. We are told that there is no money and they want us to believe this lie. If there is no money how come we can pay out billions to the bond holders? If there is no money, how come there are super rich who still are super rich? If there is no money how come NAMA builders are paid huge salaries? They scare us with the threat of the flight of capital from Ireland. So capital does exist then?

Well Europe, if you are so much for people’s wellbeing, fairness and justice, what you need to do is very simple: introduce progressive laws: don’t give the rich, running away from one country to the other, just because the corporation tax is increased by 2% or a wealth tax is introduced, the refuge they need. Introduce laws for states to take control of fixed assets and freeze bank accounts. Chase them everywhere they go. Do we think that these guys are stupid enough to give up all their investments, factories, businesses and run away just because of some progressive taxing?

And how come, if there is no money, there is the risk of capital flight?

Europe, if you claim to be a big happy family, rather than a political, economic bully, your answers and choices are clear and straightforward.

But then this European Fiscal Compact is all about:

-       The fact that the choices made make sure that ordinary people do not get the services and a decent life they need.

-       A political choice that will safeguard the wellbeing of the super rich and bond holders against any national/international democratic and political challenge.

-       A path to privatisation of people’s national assets at hugely undervalued prices.

-       An atmosphere of insecurity, reducing workers rights and wages, a rise in public fear and the ultimate loss of public’s control using this “shock therapy”.

-       A new accountancy model where they don’t have to justify what money goes where.

-       A model for a new Europe, where people and nations will have to compete with each other, in the most vicious way ever. Where European financial courts can shut down the local schools or hospitals because we are spending “too much” on educating or curing people.

Capitalism is in crisis. The cancer is spreading. But so are the occupy movements, the Arab Spring, work-place occupations, marches etc. People are angry. People are the experts on their own lives; they know what is good for the majority of people. Sometimes slowly and in small numbers, sometimes in their millions, people stand up. They are not accepting pain killers anymore for this cancer. They know it is not the cure. Cancer has to be removed and I believe people will just do that.

Ordinary people also remember who caused this mess: The very same people/power centres/experts that caused it are now claiming to fix it. People know they can’t and they won’t.

People remember the Lisbon treaty: What was it again “Say yes for jobs, prosperity and European solidarity” What a joke, what a lie. The solidarity for Euro-banks, at the expense of single parents, school children and unemployed people... A “forced” solidarity via the threat of excommunication from the happy Euro-Family... What a joke, what a lie!

If this referendum is about Ireland being “tolerated” and “allowed” to stay in the Euro (or Europe) or being kicked-out, so be it. Maybe the Euro is the austerity, maybe if their threat is Ireland being kicked-out the family, our answer is an all-out default.

Maybe it is time for people to say: ENOUGH IS ENOUGH....

Our message is clear and loud: Simply NO. Strongly NO... Ask me twice, still NO... In all languages, NEIN-HAYIR-NON- NÍ HEA - NO... Threaten us, NO... Your ifs, buts, NO...

The answer is NO...

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