Archive for October, 2011

#OLSX – #OO – Occupying – From London to Oakland
October 28, 2011

I’ve been around the #OLSX one a fair bit recently, trying to find a place to live in London atm and got a lot of free time. Despite being very skeptical at the beginning, and I still am about so much of it really, I’ve begun to feel more and more comfortable there, taking stuff in, chatting to people in ones and twos and occasionally trying to make some kind of larger intervention (but never really succeeding :)). What’s led to my getting more encouraged is by encountering others completely on the margins who also want to stay there, and who have similar reaction as me towards the main spectacle, i.e. that its just watered down climate camp-y liberalism writ slightly larger than before and in a fashionable new mode of articulation. The fringe is a nice place to be though, and remains so at least partly because “they” haven’t yet succeeded in banning alcohol or drugs from the area (despite it being passed at the general assembly).

I really didn’t mean to write any kind of report or anything when I sat down to write this, so I’m not going to say any more now. Just to point people’s attention to #occupyoakland, where the police evicted the occupation there with extreme brutality – people were crushed, fired at with rubber bullets, beaten with sticks, assaulted with flash bang grenades and with tear gas.

Here’s a video

Among those they attacked with flash grenades was a two-time Iraq war vet called Scott Olsen, who’s brain they damaged. This caused a massive outcry, and they managed to reoccupy the square later that day, and after running battles between hundreds of “protesters” and police in downtown Oakland, numbers managed to secure the plaza again, according to the latest I heard from anyone that part of the world.

Apparently (and it can be seen from their site) Oakland’s Occupy movement is much more left-wing than anywhere else in the States or certainly the UK. I’m not sure exatly why that is, but it has something to do with the long-running fights over privatisation of education in Californian Universities I think. Meaning that there is an overlap of the demographic there, as there isnt so much outside of Spain and Greece, between those who have some experience (already politicised) of fighting the state and those who camp in Plazas.

Anyway, this is from their site: ❤ ❤ ❤

GENERAL STRIKE & MASS DAY OF ACTION – NOVEMBER 2

October 27, 2011

Liberate Oakland, Shut Down the 1%

GENERAL STRIKE & MASS DAY OF ACTION
Wednesday November 2, 2011

Below is the proposal passed by the Occupy Oakland General Assembly on Wednesday October 26, 2011 in reclaimed Oscar Grant Plaza. 1607 people voted. 1484 voted in favor of the resolution, 77 abstained and 46 voted against it, passing the proposal at 96.9%. The General Assembly operates on a modified consensus process that passes proposals with 90% in favor and with abstaining votes removed from the final count.

PROPOSAL:

We as fellow occupiers of Oscar Grant Plaza propose that on Wednesday November 2, 2011, we liberate Oakland and shut down the 1%.

We propose a city wide general strike and we propose we invite all students to walk out of school. Instead of workers going to work and students going to school, the people will converge on downtown Oakland to shut down the city.

All banks and corporations should close down for the day or we will march on them.

While we are calling for a general strike, we are also calling for much more. People who organize out of their neighborhoods, schools, community organizations, affinity groups, workplaces and families are encouraged to self organize in a way that allows them to participate in shutting down the city in whatever manner they are comfortable with and capable of.

The whole world is watching Oakland. Let’s show them what is possible.

The Strike Coordinating Council will begin meeting everyday at 5pm in Oscar Grant Plaza before the daily General Assembly at 7pm. All strike participants are invited. Stay tuned for much more information and see you next Wednesday.

Good luck Oakland

20 yards make one coat 28 October 2011

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Trimming the Hedges – Could Ireland Live Without FDI ?
October 22, 2011

I noticed a few articles today lauding Ireland’s place as an attractor of Foreign Direct Investment but what I wonder about that is whether that FDI is just corporate profits being run into the IFSC and back out again to the Netherlands or Bermuda where it finally surfaces in jurisdictions with no corporation tax payable.

Our Corporation Tax earnings should be much higher and spiking every time true FDI comes into the country but I don’t see that anywhere so wonder whether Ireland is more of a kind of bonded warehouse for corporate cash flows rather than actually being a true attractor of investment which produces income for the state.

Admittedly back office jobs in units set up so that foreign corporations can take advantage of the ‘double Irish sandwich’ tax transactions are there- but they are minimal in relation to what we need and what is suggested by the official FDI figures.

I don’t think we should be dependent on our tax system and the international imbalances in national tax systems that corporations can manipulate in their favour. Sooner or later we may lose the ability to even attract corporate cash flows even on a warehousing jaunt and we’ll be left again with people on the dole as those jobs can disappear in weeks if the financial winds change.

I’m uneasy about the short term nature of many Irish jobs and wish we’d do a bit more deep breath analysis of what the country has in the way of its many advantages and look more for the creation of indigenous industry that can develop with the changing international business environment- for example the carbon credit market- why do we need foreign hedge funds to get in between Ireland and the profit available from that emerging market? If Coillte is a natural asset that underpins carbon credit markets why do we have to employ a foreign middleman and can we not balance our natural assets with the need to deliver national income ourselves?

The numbers don’t change because a foreign hedge fund is interested- why give their investors money that should be flowing into the national coffers and providing jobs off the back of emerging new trends that Ireland can take advantage of instead of these hedge funds removing the profit from the country?

We have the knowledge, the raw material, we just need to assess what we’ve got in a practical way and supply what the international markets want and we don’t need foreign middle men taking a cut.

Here is an example of a natural market for Ireland that is vastly underutilised. Salmon farming is huge and getting bigger. There is a problem in the salmon farming market around the world though where intensive farming breeds disease and attrition rates are up to 15% where salmon don’t have the room to grow naturally.

We’ve got the perfect conditions for high value ‘wild’ salmon off our shores and in our rivers. We can do salmon farming with much lower attrition rates if we aim for high quality and ‘free range’ style salmon farming. Irish food has a good reputation- and just look at this article that appeared on the BBC website the other day;

‘China has leapt into top spot in the Far East for Scottish salmon exports – just six months after it allowed seafood to be sent directly from Scotland for the first time.

Data from HM Revenue and Customs revealed 2,347 tonnes of salmon were exported to the world’s most populous nation in the first half of 2011.

The Far East total for the period was 3,036 tonnes, worth £16m.

China is now the fifth largest export destination for Scottish salmon. ‘

http://www.egovmonitor.com/node/44234

It appears the Chinese are mad for salmon. There are 300 million Chinese in their emerging ‘consumer’ class or middle class or whatever you want to call it. Ireland should be ready to supply that market with a high value export, clean and of top quality in order to beat the intensive farmers.

For all we know we could be sitting on the natural conditions for a ‘caviar’ style export into the emerging consumer market in China. That is Klondyke territory.

Captain Con O’Sullivan 20.10.2011

United Left Alliance Stalling – Why ?
October 19, 2011

It has come to my attention that the ULA is stalling as a movement- there seems to be a lack of progress on finalising a programme (indeed the programme on their website is the same as it was for the election, in February…), building the ULA as a separate organisation in its own right, and creating structures that allow for democratic ownership of the party by ordinary, non-aligned members. Why is this happening, at a time when there is clearly potential for a radical movement to grow and become a real force?

There are a number of reasons I believe have led to this impasse. The first is programme- the ULA has not sat down and hammered out a programme, based on members’ input and vigorous debate. While many issues would doubtless be contentious, it is better to get positions out in the open and stake out where people are on different questions. I am thinking something on the National Question and a clear programme on what to do about the economic crisis- in other words the ‘5 Ws’ of what the ULA would do if in power, and how to create the basis for a socialist economy. The failure to progress is hampering the ULA in my opinion, as people want to join an organisation that has set out a clear stall and is confident enough in itself to propose coherent and viable solutions. A clear position on the National Question would be useful too, as the austerity measures and ECB/IMF intervention is a clear example of European, specifically German, economic imperialism directed against Ireland.

Secondly, the main component parties seem to have more interest in building themselves than the ULA. The primary group at fault here are the SWP/PBPA, they have set more store on building themselves through front campaigns like Enough!. They are clearly taking an opportunist line to try and pick up the greatest number of recruits they can as fast as they can, dropping the ULA if they feel like it’s too hard a slog to build an organisation from scratch. However, I suspect there may be rancour between the main groups, as I mentioned in another thread the PBPA feel a bit miffed at the SP’s decision to run a candidate against their candidate in Dublin Mid-West during the general election, justifiably in my opinion. This could help explain why they are investing more of their time and activity in Enough! rather than the ULA. In any case the main parties, for whatever reason, seem to be more concerned with their own organisations and recruits than the ULA, as a result the ULA is stalling.

A third problem is the continued limbo of the ULA as a party. As of now it’s not a party, yet it is clearly more than an alliance, as there are individual members and an ULA membership card. The ULA, despite being a year old next month, is still being governed by a steering committee appointed by the main parties, with little input for ordinary members possible. This undemocratic travesty means the ULA is and will remain unattractive to ordinary people or workers who want to get involved. Understandably enough, people will not join an organisation in which they have no power, no say over policy or position, and where it is governed by rival factions who place their own interests above those of the formation.

In short, the ULA and its party members need to take a good long hard look at the ULA as it is, and where they will be if they continue down this route. Almost one year after formation, the ULA is no nearer becoming a party than it was then. It has been reacting to events rather than taking a lead, and the focus on charges campaigns as a compromise way of party building means the ULA components have avoided grasping the nettle on the difficult issues I mentioned above. For the good of the left and the Irish working class, they need to do so sooner rather than later, as the experience of ‘New Left’ formations on the continent shows that organisations who don’t take concrete positions or solve the issue of what type of party/formation they are tend to atrophy and break up.

As of now the ULA is being governed by the Steering Committee. There have been no conferences yet with the power to decide on policy, the National Convention was little more than a seminar, and it is well and good to say that members should make policy but it seems an effort in vain if there are no structures or procedures in place for it to be voted on and adopted. People may be put off by the idea of submitting policy documents to a steering committee they are unsure will ever read them or do anything about them if they do read them. To my mind the best way of putting a programme in place would be to hold a convention, draw up a draft programme done by the steering committee, and allow it to be exhaustively debated and amendments brought by members. That should be done in the next month or two, imo. The SP and SWP are holding their conferences, why aren’t the ULA? Circulate a draft programme, bring everyone together for a long weekend, and thrash out a programme. Consult economists for advice beforehand or ask some sympathisers in that field to cost specific proposals and present them for debate. Plenty of people want an alternative, give them one. I would be delighted to have input myself and to help the ULA grow, but I’ve been forced to emigrate, so I’m afraid I’m only in a position to comment on the issues above online.

Ordinary independent workers or activists won’t join an organisation where they are second class members, and where there is no prospect of that changing in the immediate to short term future. The ULA needs to put in place more structures, not necessarily enough to become a full blown party, but enough to allow for democratic collective decision making, and some degree of centralisation and coherent, transparent and member-accountable decision making. As of now that doesn’t exist in the ULA. It should.

The ULA needs to take measures: you can’t wait for the class struggle to boil over and expect activists to automatically turn to the ULA as a vehicle for fighting back if there is only a shell of an organisation and perceived (I say perceived, as right-wingers, and many people with no experience of the left, seem to think that it’s all ‘Life of Brian’ style debating when as you and I know that to be far from the truth) disunity.

Many of people have been cynical about the ULA, or don’t see it as a viable way forward for the future. I think it could be a great organisation, but that there are problems that need to be ironed out pretty quickly if the ULA is to survive and grow. The lessons of the new left elsewhere should be indicative enough of what happens if you don’t create a durable organisation with a clear programme, democratic decision making structures and a clear strategy for the future. I hope the ULA does move on these issues pretty quickly, because time is running out for them to make an impact. It would be a great pity if it went the way of the NPA or other groups.

Antiestablishmentarian 18.10.11

Irish Economic Indicators for 2012 – Is the Need for Austerity being Overestimated ?
October 17, 2011

Well, I did a mammoth post throwing out most recent figures on every economic indicator I could find… then my charger fell out. Breaking Bad finale is soon, so I’ll keep it brief.

[N.B. These are the combined Google searches of an amateur, hastily put together. Any “positives” do not indicate relief of on the ground human suffering, but are just statistics. It is also dependent on the new global slowdown being short term]

No we’re not the darling of the markets, we’re still in mega sh*t. Our rates only went down because the ECB started illegally buying our bonds directly[EDIT: lo and behold our rates increased by nearly a full percent so far this week]. Some lights are actually green though. However the red lights are all massive in scale and pretty much out of our immediate control.

Capitalist economic indicators for 2012 in English.

Positive:

Interest rates, inflation – – stable low inflation and interest rates(likely to be lowered soon).
Retail – – Bottomed out, set to rise half a percent.
Tourism – – 2, 3 years from pre-recession peak.
Agriculture – – Global food prices booming(and for foreseeable future)
Balance of Payments/Trade positive – – Caveat: unknown how much is repatriated abroad
GDP & GNP growth – – Both positive and should continue to be so before igniting in mid 2013
Banks/Lending – – Fully recapitalized, [I]should[/I] be functional for first time since 2007.
Stocks – – Currently bottomed out at ~2,600 from year beginning 2,900 and early 2007 peak of 10,100
Capital Formation – – At 1997/8 levels but bottomed out and growing.
Energy – – On course to surpass target of 40 percent renewable energy by 2020 – valuable commodity for likes of Poland who will struggle to meet their target.

Neutral:

Employment – – Statistically speaking. Bottomed out unemployment level/ counterbalanced by continued mass emigration. Wages down(12 percent overall 5 percent in 2010), productivity up(well above EU average). Unemployment peaked, though most of it longterm. Statistically steady at 14.4 per cent if emigration at 60k per year keeps up. 3 biggest drivers of employment have(at best) no plans to hire in medium term: state, construction, menial retail
Manufacturing & Services – – Neutral at best for the year after suffering contraction in 2nd half of year.

Negative:

Government debt – – Massive and unmanageable
IMF – Will be required until 2014, but new EU economic gov means we’ll never get those powers back.
Threat of Default – – Debt needs to be heavily restructured by Jan 2013 or October Ireland 2012 will look like October Greece 2011
Global Recession/Weak Growth – – Hopefully just a statistical dip before resuming weak growth in 2012(end of stimulus, start of uniform austerity)
Cuts – – FGLab’s tunnel vision means what they undertake will be especially deep and vicious.
Budget Deficit – – Not due to turn neutral or positive by 2017/18.
Property – – Should fall for another 12-18 months/10-15 percent but growth from there will remain flat until late in the decade due to ban of upward only rents and property taxes.
NAMA – – What are the implications of that for NAMA? It needed to grow 10 percent from Q4 2009 prices by 2019 to be cost neutral I remember hearing. In 2010 prices fell a further 14 percent, the same again is expected for this year and slightly less for next. By my back-of-envelope calculations that means 2014 prices will need to rise about 80 percent in the 5 years between then and 2019. Assuming 5 percent property price increases in those years, we would still fall short by 40 percent and would only reach that point after a decade of uninterrupted 5 percent growth per year in 2025. ([U]definitely[/U] needs a check).
Household debt – – Massive and will lag recovery until it is reduced by half. Household debt is said to harm an economy once it reaches 90 percent of GDP, we are currently at over twice that.
Infrastructure – – Will creak and crumble due to zero investment

Summary:

Fianna Fail took nearly 4 painful years to remove 20 billion from the budget, all of the “low-hanging fruit” has been picked… and we are under orders to remove a further 15 billion.

Next year will feel a lot like this year on the surface. The policy of “Internal devaluation” has reached its limit – it cannot resolve any of the negatives that remain and will exacerbate some further. The only tools left in FGLab’s imagination are emigration, “structural reforms”, widening the tax base and charges. At best, they will hoover up the fruits of any economic growth to send back to the IMF. Not much will change in practical terms, but the bonuses of having a functioning banking system for the first time in nearly 5 years should be eliminated by the slowing economy of our trade partners and the latest budget. As privatisation commences, expect trade union militancy to finally reemerge, with or without the leadership.

A (jobless) recovery should start to take place from mid 2013, though that is to say any fresh pain or weakness in the economy will be due to self-infliction. That is based on the premise that some solution is found(ie eurobonds and massive haircuts) for the unsustainable debt repayments/bonds from Jan 2013. Unless a solution is found well in time, expect next October 2012 in Ireland to look a lot like Greece in October 2011.

The next election – if the current gov miraculously lasts full term of 5 years – will take place in the context of 3 percent budget deficit, unemployment of slightly under 9 percent, and national debt down to around 95 percent of GDP(needs to be below 60 per cent). Whoever wins that election will be able to ride the “good times are back” narrative come 2017/2018 if there is anybody left by then or a state left to run. Of course those “good times” won’t actually feel very good at all due to the reforms and disciplines enacted to that point.

Which is just about the time the next economic collapse should be coming around..!

The deficit needs to be 3 percent of GDP or under.

Wikipedia seems to think that GDP at the end of last year was 165 billion dollars, which converts to about 125 billion euros. The deficit for 2010 was 11.5ish percent I believe, which when rounded up equated to oft-touted figure of a 15 billion euro deficit.

———————————————————————————————————————————————————–

If growth is set to be 1.2 percent of GDP for the year and the target is 10.6 percent deficit – which apparently we will beat – then what will the deficit be in euros this year?

GDP for 2011 to be around 127 billion then, with a deficit of 13 billion euro (10.3 percent). We are allowed a deficit of 3.8 billion.

———————————————————————————————————————————————————-

What if we just concentrate on growing the deficit into insignificance and neither raise spending nor implement cuts?

GDP growth is expected to be 2 percent next year which would leave us at 130 billion euro GDP. We would then be allowed a deficit of 3.9 billion euro. The target for next year will be 8.6 percent, meaning an actual deficit of 11.2 billion euro. So start with an 11.2 billion deficit every year.

I would expect growth to be fairly robust from 2013 on. Let’s say growth is 3 percent. That will leave us with a GDP of 134 billion and allowing us a deficit of 4.02 billion.

2013 – 134 billion (3 per cent growth) – allowable 4.02 billion deficit – 7 billion over limit
2014 – 140 billion(4percent growth?) – allowable 4.2 billion deficit. – 7 billion over
2015 – 146 billion(same) – allowable 4.4 billion deficit – 6.8 billion over
2016 – 152 billion(same) – allowable 4.6 billion deficit – 6.6 billion over
2017 – 158 billion(same) – allowable 4.75 billion deficit – 6.45 billion over
2018 – 164 billion(same) – allowable 5 billion deficit – 6.2 billion over
2019 – 171 billion (same) – allowable 5.12 billion deficit – 6 billion over
2020 – 178 billion (same) – allowable 5.4 billion deficit – 5.8 billion over

———————————————————————————————————————————————————

Now, its reasonable to assume that unemployment will come down during this period of rapid growth resulting in lower in social welfare expenditure.

Approximately 25.2 percent of our 20.8 billion Social Welfare spending is spent on Jobseekers which equates to 5.2 billion when unemployment was 14 percent. Earlier I guessed that unemployment would be just under 9 percent in 2016(2015?) with cuts. It would be fair to assume that without further cuts employment would be higher at that point. Let’s guess just over 7 percent, over half of what it is now. That would mean an immediate halving of that 5.2 billion, shaving 2.6 billion off the deficit. I’m guessing additional welfare that would naturally come down would take that saving to 3 billion.

——————————————————————————————————————————————————–

So the 6.6 billion over-the-limit annual deficit for 2016 would be reduced to 3.6 billion. I think it would actually be a bit lower due to the indirect benefits of high employment, growth and inflation, so say 3.2 billion.

(That, combined with the allowable 4.6 billion deficit – 7.8 billion – is what I [I]think[/I] is what is called the structural deficit.)

Total deficit would be 5.1 percent/7.8billion, or 3.2 billion more than allowed.

2020 is very far out, but say with higher employment than 2016, with uninterrupted growth we could assume full employment of say 4.5 percent that the dole bill would be down to 1.6 billion, a saving of more than a billion. This would mean an annual over-the-limit deficit of just over 2 billion and deficit of less than 4.2percent.

To conclude, after this budget, if we actually just don’t adjust the budget then the deficit would fall to 5.1 percent in the year of the next election, with growth of 4 percent and unemployment of just over 7 percent. Beyond that – all things remaining the same – in 2020 we would have attained full employment and the deficit would be 4.2 percent.

The current plan envisages a 2.8 percent deficit by the end of 2015. So, to compare versus our 2016 figure, we can guess that the deficit will be less than 1.5 percent(with 9 percent unemployment) versus our 5.1 percent(with 7 percent unemployment). The zero-cuts approach would mean we would be spending 3.2 billion more than we are allowed in 2016 as opposed to over 7 billion today.

So, if zero-cuts means that we will be spending 3.2 billion more than we are allowed in 2016, how can we fix that?

Firstly, to put that in context, this year we are spending more than 10 billion more than we are allowed and have implemented “cuts” of 20 billion so far.

3.2 billion doesn’t sound too bad does it?

[]http://www.finfacts.ie/irishfinancenews/article_1018617.shtml[/]

“Irish Budget 2010: Interest payments on the national debt will increase by €2bn to €4.6bn in 2010”

Elsewhere he states “Public debt as a percentage of GDP will exceed 100% in the coming 2 years and while Ireland will be paying 20% of its tax revenues in interest compared with 28% in 1991”. I think tax revenues amount to 37 billion euro for 2010 and are likely to increase a bit meaning 20 percent of tax revenues would be more than 8 billion euros from 2013 on current trajectory.

It appears that the extra money we are spending is more than made up by our recent increase in interest payments on the state’s debts.

Remember, before the recession our national debt was 20 percent of GDP. It is now on its way to 120 percent due entirely to the crisis. It is the banks debts that are to blame for the rise from 2 billion per annum interest rate payments to 8 billion euro from 2013. Even if we allowed for the increased debt as a result of budgetary deficit spending, we will still be spending nearly 5 billion on interest in 2010 that we shouldn’t be – without which our deficit would be 10 billion or about 8 percent come 31/12/2011. The budget problem would naturally disappear by the next election.

Solution? Do nothing more and a) dump the banks or b)refinance debt with eurobonds.

—————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

Its looking like these big scary massive numbers that are thrown at us are just a smokescreen for a massive attack on the welfare state and the population/capital versus labour. If we actually had zero cuts from after the upcoming budget, the economy would revert to a very healthy state by the next election. I did not expect to come to this conclusion. I was actually ready to come up with a big stimulus package and alternative budget!

Basically what we are witnessing is the total transformation of the modern state. The state as we know it exists to redistribute the excess wealth to maintain a cohesive society. Now, the state is being stripped of all its service providing, any meaningful welfare provisions or wealth redistribution and being turned into an entity who’s only function is to gather tax revenue raised from the poor and hand it over to the wealthy, banks and financiers.

The finance economy ran on imaginary money burst and is a black hole sucking real money out of the real economy, being multiples larger than it. We are moving in the surreal direction where the two economies are passing each other by. The finance economy is getting stuffed with real cash and draining it all out of the real economy where it is being replaced by debt, that is to say imaginary money. To control the real economy/world, you just have to control the debt then. Who controls debt but credit institutions?

When you look at the bigger picture, this has actually been a flawless coup for the banks, finance and capital. Neoliberalism is not, as you would think, on its deathbed, its about to declare its final victory. Here in Ireland, we’re just the vanguard of global capital and it’s desires so we’ll always be an indicator of how it is developing globally.

These charts here, though deserving a thread of their own, pretty much confirm this masterful showing of dominance by capital –

http://www.businessinsider.com/what-wall-street-protesters-are-so-angry-about-2011-10


Unspecific715 14.10.11

The Radio
October 7, 2011

The Radio

‘Good morning Ulster’ she approximated
Despite the litanies anticipated
Suspect advice she satiated
The victim’s name, not yet related

Will all key holders check their shop?
The victim’s name at 9 o’clock
Sandyknowes is chock-a- block
Parsons plead the madness stop.

Great results for the Whites and Blues
On a border road, a pair of shoes
A three-nil win against The Crues
The victim’s name, first other news.

Wrap up well against the breeze
The victim’s name will follow these
There’s a rumour of a longer freeze
These killings usually come in threes

Graham joins us from the farmers’ show
Trouble there? He reckons, ‘No!’
The victim’s name today is slow
It’s nice to have a little snow.

Police have said the man was shot
I’ve never known it quite so hot
Demands that killers soon be caught
The victim’s name, we soon forgot.

5intheface 5.10.2011

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