The Fate of Ireland

Over the past few months, my reading material has carried echoes of calls for “austerity” here in the U.S., which by my reading means robbing the public by way of cuts to social services and higher taxes to pay for the transgressions or failures of the wealthy, most notably America’s massive imperial footprint and the “bank bailouts” (read: robbing the treasury).

It’s important to remember that all those wars are mainly for the benefit of the wealthy, to gain access to cheap raw materials and labor markets. The wars are often mentioned separately from the bank bailouts, but the benefactors are basically the same people.

Anyway. Probably nobody remembers this, but John McCain, during campaign 2008, named Ireland as an especially business-friendly economy. In Republican parlance, that usually means lax regulations on business and low corporate tax rates. And a Google search for “Ireland good economy”, limited to 2005 to early 2008, returns all kinds of gleeful bullshit about the “Celtic Tiger” and how great it was to be in business in Ireland.

But wait a minute- low corporate tax rates means reduced government revenue, which in turn means increased public debt (all other things remaining equal). And from where does the IMF demand a pound of flesh? It sure as hell isn’t from the corporations who have enjoyed low tax rates in Ireland for decades. CNN put it this way:

Crucially, the plan calls for keeping the corporate tax rate at 12.5 percent, a way to encourage businesses not to leave the country.

The IMF is demanding a lower minimum wage, reduced welfare benefits, public sector layoffs, and an increased VAT, which is a regressive sales tax that disproportionately hurts the poor.

So tell me, dear reader, how in the hell is Ireland’s economy going to recover if people have even fewer jobs and less money to spend, and at the same time have an increased cost of living thanks to the increased VAT?

It gets worse. The same articles I mentioned earlier cited the low cost of education in Ireland as a key reason for its economic success through the 1990’s, even conservative spin factories like the Heritage Foundation, because an educated workforce is vital to a working modern economy. But guess where else the IMF wants cuts?

Cowen said he also wants to boost the amount students must pay for higher education, though he didn’t say by how much.

And moreover, why didn’t Ireland’s first austerity plan do anything at all to shore up “confidence”, which is supposedly at the core of the “crisis”? This “belt tightening” has been happening for three years, and Nobel laureate Paul Krugman is also wondering what’s up.

This is not a sound way to get an economy back on its feet. This is class warfare. The IMF is a malicious occupying force with an antisocial agenda, which it implements in any country it can get its hooks into. Its agenda does not lead to widely shared prosperity, and it has proven this over and over again. And it’s coming for the U.S. next.

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