Archive for May, 2012

Vote No To Bureaucracy and Thatcherism
May 29, 2012

The Fiscal Compact is a hastily conceived document that was agreed between a number of EU governments at a crisis meeting on 9th December, 2011 when the euro appeared on the verge of collapse.

It derives from a faulty analysis of the euro crisis and its link to an orgy of financial speculation.  It does not focus on imbalances at the heart of the euro – between a high ‘savings’ ratio in Germany and high levels of debt in the peripheral countries. Nor does it deal with the explosion in de-regulated banking. Its sole focus is rather on public spending.

Yet the rise in public spending is a consequence – not a cause of the economic crisis. Sovereign states were forced to bail out banks and this led to a rise in their borrowing costs. The Fiscal Treaty would have done nothing to stop the crisis that occurred in 2008 because Spain and Ireland were within its targets.

The core of the treaty is contained in Article 3 of the treaty which states that ‘the budgetary position of the general government shall be balanced or in surplus’. This is deemed to occur if the ‘structural deficit’ does not exceed 0.5%. The requirement for a balanced budget must be transposed into national law, and ‘preferably’ put in the constitution.

Many people instinctively support the ideal of a balanced budget. However, countries are not like individuals and there are times when a state needs to stimulate an economy through extra spending.  Those who argue this are usually influenced by the writings of John Maynard Keynes.

Under the impact of the Wall Street Crash of 1929, Keynes challenged the idea that markets should be left to rectify themselves and argued instead for greater state intervention. During a recession, he pointed out, domestic demand shrinks and capitalists often refuse to invest.  The state was the only force in society that could start spending and so the old, orthodox ideas about ‘balanced budgets’ should be thrown out.

The Fiscal Treaty would make these moderate policies effectively illegal. Governments would be put into a straight jacket and be subject to greater control from an unelected EU Commission. They would be forced to stay within a 0.5% range of their structural deficit.

Yet strangely there is no agreement among even mainstream economists about how to calculate this structural deficit. The German Bundesbank states that calculation of the structural deficit is ‘relatively complex, opaque and elastic on account of the numerous discretionary modelling options’. [i] In other words, you get different results based on what model you use.

Voting Yes means ceding more control to the EU Commission to impose ‘corrective action’ on us – in the name of a mysterious economic concept upon which there is no agreement.

The Treaty therefore represents a profound attack on democracy. It gives the EU Commission more power to lay down guidelines to determine ‘‘the nature, size and the time frame of the corrective action to be undertaken.’ It forces countries to accept their recommendations for ‘structural reform’. It allows them to direct local economies through an insane combination of extreme bureaucracy and neoliberalism.

To keep our sanity, we need to Vote No.

  Kieran Allen   29. 5. 2012

[i] Quoted in P. McArdle, The Euro Crisis: The ‘Fiscal Compact’ and Fiscal Policy, Dublin Institute of International and European Affairs 2012.

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The EU Unification Project – Applied Elsewhere….
May 28, 2012

An American asked me “How will/would a Federal Europe help Nation-States and vice-versa so that Europe remains a major geopolitics player and Nation-States prosper ?”

If we must discuss what’s being proposed for the unification of Europe, and what it means for Nation States on a Global Geopolitical Basis …..

Let’s discuss Federal Continental Union in a North American context, just to give you a bit of perspective on how it feels to have people insist that a European Federalist state is a desirable goal.

So there you have a natural geographical unit like the Continent Of Europe. The expanding EU is already a bigger economy than the US. The Chinese are within touch distance of taking over as the worlds No 1 economy.

The good old US should do what in those circumstances.

A – accept their soon to be number three status, just suck it up and concentrate on running their own country as properly as possible.

B – proceed to enlarge itself by forming a North American Union, with Canada, Mexico, Guatamala, Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicuragua, Cost Rica, Panama.

How could this be done, how could so many countries with different languages, cultures and economies be moulded into one Union. Why would they be willing to surrender sovereignty to a Union dominated by the US.

Well first you would need to form a free trade block. NAFTA, fits the bill, non threatening. Start with some large countries, the immediate neighbours. Canada and Mexico.

So far, so good or goodish. They need to grow this sucker, there are so many markets and countries on the continent that would benefit from mutual cooperation. Their poverty could be overcome by offering structural funds, a win win scenario.

The US need a goal of economic and social convergence before they offer these funds. They can’t just throw money at banana Republics, let’s bring them up to the USs level. They’ll have a NA parliament, a council of ministers, each country will have a Veto so they will have their own sovereignty otherwise it would be impossible to sell to their electorates. ( North American Economic Community )

Gradually it absorbs some of the smaller countries into the community, progress is being blocked by the need for unanimous votes on nearly everything, the use of the Veto by insignificant smaller countries is frustrating. Why are they holding things up, don’t they know it’s for the common good. The union must be expanded so we can outmanoeuvre the smaller countries. We need to create an entity with more centralised powers like a NAU.

The US offers them structural funds and grooms their political parties by forming alliances with them in the parliament. The real power lies with the council of ministers, they are ardent supporters of the project, 1st World salaries for them in the NAEC administration when they retire from National politics and their share of NAEC pork will make them good advocates of NAEC policy.

Let’s move to the next step, obviously they need to move to a full union, more qualified majority voting is necessary. Let’s form the NAU, we’ll abandon our individual currencies. We’ll have a NA dollar backed by the strength of the US economy, it’ll be controlled by an Independent NACB. What could go wrong?

There’s a worldwide boom, it’s fantasy economics, the bubble should be deflated. The US is going through a tough patch, they don’t want higher interest rates, they want to export to the peripheral countries who are flying high on cheap credit.

The US is back on it’s feet, the fantasy economics have been proven to be just that. The peripheral are in deep trouble, the US and International Finance has so much to lose if the peripheral can’t pay back the loans. The NACB steps in and shores up the private banks of the periphery so that the US and International Finance are guaranteed their money back.

The periphery are shagged, they’re in a weakened state, time to go in for the kill. You advance them loans at high interest rates, they grudgingly accept as TINA and you have them by the privates. You proceed to use the high interest rates on the loans you advanced and control of the “Independent” NACB to exert pressure to finish full fiscal and political Union on your terms.

Game over, NAU is almost complete, you give the peripherals a bit of equality in the NAU parliament which is only a talking shop. The rules have been set in stone by Treaty, try changing them without the say so of the US. You give the peripherals a bit of a writedown on their debt and lower interest rates after you’ve got what you want.

Job done and dusted, you didn’t even have to give the Hondurans an equal say in the running of the NAU. Of course you never intended to, a 300 million population powerhouse economy vs a 7.6 million population banana republic. Only a fool or a dishonest person would ever pretend that was on the cards.

The best part is you get to look down on them, if only they were as organised and ruthless as you they would never have succumbed to their own chronic shortsightedness.

Never mind, they can send their unemployed youth to fight in your army. Every Empire needs an Army, how else would they rig the game in their own favour.

I know which stage the small countries should cry stop at, the Free Trade in exchange for structural funds stage.

The final stage has not been completed, the best thing we can do is refuse to take that final step. If they want their money back they’ll have to come to an agreed solution, they’re not the only ones with cards at the table.

Shaadi  27 May 2012

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Not Only Are We Ceding Sovereignty, More Importantly, We Are Ceding Democracy
May 18, 2012

This Fiscal Pact makes no sense in the current political and economic climate. It also, again, needs to be reiterated that the fiscal pact/stability treaty would NOT have prevented our current crisis, so is therefore not the “solution”.

We here in Ireland and across Europe stand on a precipice and must take time and effort to secure the future not only for ourselves but for generations to come. Greece is in turmoil, Ireland and Portugal are in “forced bailouts” (of private financial institutions) Spain and Italy are spiralling out of control and the response from Europe has been much less than “adequate”- indeed some would describe the European response as having been fatal to the economies involved.

Europe has continually refused to accept that the introduction and implementation of the euro and the policies of the ECB which came with that implementation is where the structural flaws of the currency lies and that the devastation wreaked by those flaws should never under any circumstances have been placed on the shoulders of its citizens to burden. Europe must wake-up and take collective responsibility for this crises, acceptance of responsibility will be the first steps to recovery.

A solution is what needs to be found and part of that solution has to be removing the burden of private banking institutions and speculative property developer debts from the shoulders of the ordinary citizen, let market forces run their course and it won’t be long before the wheat is separated from the chaff in our financial institutions.

Our greatest asset is our people, their productivity, sustaining and expanding our economies.  Until people can get back to doing what they do best we will be unable to get on the road to recovery. Being part of Europe was meant to be a partnership that enhanced and secured the viability of Europe, its people and economies but current policies have tied us all into a “marriage from hell”

Ireland must step back reflect and have an informed, inclusive debate on where and how we wish to proceed to best combat this current crisis. Decisions have been made in haste, panic and darkness.  This is certainly neither the time nor the climate either politically or economically to enter into “experimental policies” dictated by Europe (running scared of markets) and implemented through fear and blackmail of its citizens. Our political leaders have a moral duty to ensure, encourage and promote democracy whilst putting the interests of the Irish people first and foremost in all discussion and policy implementation. If politicians have to use fear and blackmail to force citizens to do their bidding we have then indeed lost our last shreds of democracy.

ang  18 May 2012

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“The morning after…. ” A Risk Assessment of the Fiscal Stability Treaty Vote
May 17, 2012

” The morning after…….

Supporting a ” yes” vote in this referendum is one of the most difficult decisions I have had to make, politically. 

My ability to represent my constituents was taken away by the Intergovernmental nature of the Fiscal Compact Treaty.  The European Parliament, in particular, the Socialist Group, was hostile to the Treaty.  It was obvious that it was a political agreement to satisfy Merkel’s government. Just about everything was wrong with it. 

And yet, and yet, I had to move past all that, in to the particular situation we were in. After much deliberating it became clear to me and at least some others on the centre left, that the risk was simply too great for a “no” vote. In other words I made a risk assessment. It had nothing to do with being a member of a government Party. It is also clear that the FCT will fail at a EU level, but it is a failure that we must not bring about. On a more hopeful note, our ability to re-negotiate our debts, in particular the promissory notes, will be enhanced by a yes vote. However I personally expect the government to engage in that serious negotiating with the Troika, if necessary, unilaterally.

My concerns are, and always have been, about the aftermath, the morning after May 31st. Where will we be then? While we will have left the “hot zone” of risk by a “yes” vote, no actual gains will be made.  At that point if no political will is demonstrated to show a red rather than white flag, in those negotiations, the government, in particular the Labour Party, will have failed. At that point it will be impossible for me to support the status quo. 

Many of my constituents are very angry, even the “yes” voters. Why should anyone be surprised at this anger? They will still be so on June 1st. And they will expect something.  I expect something. But will it happen? 

There is reason for hope. Only a few people know our negotiating strategy. But I know what is right and what is wrong. No hero will appear to rescue us from everything. Great damage has been done already. But we can be rescued from unacceptable suffering. 

Nessa Childers    16.5.2012

The New Right in Europe
May 17, 2012

With the recent surge seen in the far right in Europe, are they promising people something they can deliver on or are they going to fall flat? In the recent French elections, Marie Le Pen promised to look at the rights of workers and played the left wing card hoping to appeal to those whom might have otherwise voted for the left. Golden Dawn came to power in Greece with the promise to deal with the immigration issues that they have made out to be a bigger deal than it is . Golden Dawn saw their figures jump from .29% support to 6.7% or thereabouts on the back of playing the anti immigration card, they vowed to rid “Athens of the stench” of what is immigrants. In Finland the True Finns are surfing in on a tide of anti European sentiment and anti immgration policies. Couple all of this with well known antics of such parties in Ireland and the BNP in the UK and other far right parties in Europe and we may be setting ourselves up for a dangerous rift in society. Already some of these parties are well known to have violent links and links to neo nazism.

What are the reasons for the rise in the far right?

The following publication , Far Right Parities – discourse in Europe,suggests the following:…ight_EN_LR.pdf

-disillusion with main stream parties
-Complex party systems with excellent communications
-Exploiting niches in various areas of the political spectrum (immigration being one stick they use to beat others)
-lack of show of power (leadership etc) by the left.

People cannot say that have not been warned. We allow these parties to come in and we sign the death warrant of democracy itself. We validate the opinions of the autocrats and the fascits and we allow them to dictate to us how to live our lives when it is us that should be in control of our lives.

Are we allowing these wolves to continually dress in sheeps clothing? Lets hope in the future we don’t let them for our sake and for the sake of the weak in society.


fluffybiscuits  17.5.2012

Michael Lowry Case Makes a Mockery of the Standards in Public Office Legislation
May 13, 2012

Anybody who has been following this case over the last few weeks will be aware of Lowry’s non declaration in the Dail Register of Member’s Interest of his ownership of 11 acres of land in Tipperary:The Oireachtas register of members’ interests states Mr Lowry is a director of Abbeygreen Consulting Ltd and of Garuda Ltd.

A business premises in Tipperary owned by Garuda is declared in Mr Lowry’s entry in the register where members are asked to declare land they own.
However, Mr Lowry does not make any such declaration in relation to land owned by Abbeygreen.
Files in the Land Registry show Abbeygreen is the full owner of land at Gortnahoe, near Two-Mile Borris, in Co Tipperary.
The company is registered as having become the owner of the land on May 9th, 2011, two months after the Moriarty report was published.

The Committee on Members Interests considered the matter and ruled that there was no onus on a TD to declare any assets of a company he/she has a interest in once his/her directorship is declared.
This is the text of the letter sent to Lowry:

The letter to Deputy Lowry states, “The Committee considered the matter at it’s meeting of today’s date ( 26 April). The Committee noted that you had included in the Register of Members Interests, your directorship of Garuda Ltd and Abbeygreen Consulting Ltd. The advice of the Committee is that, once a member has declared his/her directorship of a company, it is not a requirement that land and/or other assets of that company be declared/registered. The holdings of a company are not registrable interests of an individual member, within the meaning of the Ethics in Public Offices Act 1995 and 2001.

Why should any member of the Oireachtas now declare ownership of anything?  Why not just set up a company and move one’s assets to that company?
This ruling surely means that there is a gaping hole in the SIPO legislation which can now be availed of to avoid scrutiny in the future.

PaddyJoe  10.5.2012

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Mr. Aphorisms Reads the Fiscal Stability Treaty
May 8, 2012

I have to say, this really is an insane Treaty created by madmen. I went through the government “your guide” pamphlet that was given to me by the landlord today. As already said, the Treaty is a complete eradication of all sovereignty and the capitulation to E.U demands.

First of all, the main jist of this Treaty seems to be that nations that run high deficits are incapable of governing themselves and so to save them and the Euro, the Treaty must be passed.   Article 1(1) is straight to the point that the Fiscal Compact is “to strengthen the coordination of their (the “Contracting Parties” as we’re called in this) economic policies and to improve the governance of the euro area, thereby supporting the achievement of the Europe Union’s objectives for sustainable growth, employment, competitiveness and social cohesion.”

The brazenness to actually use this Treaty as a way to say it will create jobs is incredible given the debacle that the Lisbon Treaty turned out to be.

Articles 3 and 8 from the “Fiscal Compact” section are the real dangerous parts of this Treaty.

Article 3(1) says: “The Contracting Parties shall apply the rules set out in this paragraph in addition and without [B]prejudice [/B]to their obligation under European Law.”

Then, straight after that and in a nicely sounding way, article 3 paragraph 1(a) says that “the budgetary position of the general government of a Contracting party shall be balances or in surplus” which means austerity until it is put right.

1(a) then goes on to say that the European Commission will decide on how we and the Contracting Parties are performing. If we meet our medium term objectives, we’ll be OK, supposedly. They make it clear later on what the punishment will be.   I do love the way though that this pamphlet keeps on saying “Contracting Parties” as if we’re all in this together.  It really is comical I feel.    We are not the same as Germany or France and will not be treated the same, nor will the rest.

We’re only allowed “deviate” from the medium term objectives in “exceptional circumstances.”   It doesn’t actually say what that means, but points to paragraph 3(b) which doesn’t point out what an exceptional circumstance would be.   Can we use Enda and Lucy as exceptional circumstances given their ineptitude?

Then 1(e) brings up this “correction mechanism” i.e   if we f up, or are deviating, this mechanism will be “triggered automatically.”    The Contracting Party will then have an “obligation” to sort this out or else face the consequences.   Honestly, I am not a Europhile or wholly against Europe, but this Treaty is fuckin’ draconian and it gets much worse.

In Article 3(b) it elaborates a bit on what “exceptional circumstances” are but doesn’t give any specifics. I wonder about this because if we are falling away behind our “medium objectives” in a year or two and it is coming up to when we need to pay bondholders, will that be an exceptional circumstance and will Europe allow us to renege or defer from paying them?   It is far too vague and to be honest, the way our government is, I can’t ever see us using this exceptional circumstance provision, even if we needed too. “We pay our way” and all that.

Article 8 really is madness. If we fail to comply with Article 3(2), and the European Commission feels in its “reports” that the “Contracting Party” is going arseways, the “Contracting Party” will be brought to the Court of Justice by one of more Contracting Parties. Now, I don’t think that will be a unilateral decision with Latvia and Malta asking Ireland to be brought.    I really don’t feel that the “Contracting Parties” or Spain and Portugal will be doing it either.    I feel that it will be Germany and France that will be bringing these countries to the Court of Justice to sort them out.   I mean, have you ever heard anything in your life such as this?    It is completely insane.     But it gets worse.

If another Contracting Party feels that another Contracting Party has failed to follow article 3(2), it may also bring the matter to the Court of Justice.   But again, I can’t see the smaller nations actually doing this or actually being taken seriously by the court.And then comes the most insane part. The part that had Merkel portrayed as a Nazi.    In paragraph 2 of Article 8, it says that:

“Where, on the basis of its own assessment or that of the European Commision, a Contracting Party considers that another Contracting Party has not taken the necessary measures to comply with the judgement of the Court of Justice referred to in paragraph 1, it may bring the case before the Court of Justice and request  the imposition of financial sanctions   following criteria established by the European Commission in the framework of article 260 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.”

It truly is a bizarre Treaty.   So much for stability, try chaos.   This will guarantee the banking institutions be untouched and the bondholders and will literally hold the countries of Europe at gunpoint. I also fear the power Germany will get from this Treaty as anyone who says it is equal and takes the wording of the Treaty seriously, about the “Contracting Parties” needs to be sent to an asylum.

Anyway, that is why I am voting no to this madness. Bit terse and all over the gaf, but just wanted to say my piece.   Going to go over what others have said on here now and see if there’s any good info to get hold of.   And can the NO side please ban Joe Higgins from debates, thanks.    Send in Declan Ganley, Kieran Allen, Gurgdiev, Somerville and a few others.

The reasons to vote yes I suppose are basically:

  • We’re too stupid to look after our deficit
  • If we vote no, the ATM’s will attack people and no one will lend us money.

Mr. Aphorisms  8 May 2012


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The Changing Tide in Greek and European Politics
May 7, 2012

Just back from the shelter, and, with 1% of the vote still to be checked and allocated, looking at the good news that

– ND/PASOK DO NOT HAVE A MAJORITY. They are combined at 149 seats, 2 short of the majority they need.

– SYRIZA has managed to out perform PASOK (iow took a load of PASOK votes), and if you take out the 50 seat bonus that ND has as the bigest party, SYRIZA is 6 seats short of being the biggest party. If this goes to a second vote, all indications are that there will be another shift towards SYRIZA which would most likely make them the biggest party. Merkel better order a truckload of Panadol!

– New Dawn is stuck on 21 seats, which is a blight on Greece and 21 seats to many. What it has done however is given the normal thinking people in Greece a serious fright and there is now a very strong, united anti fascist consensus in the country and within the pother political parties, exclusing LAOS, who have been all but wiped. If this goes to a second round of voting, New Dawn will probably find it’s support seriously reduced. Unfortunately, that would mean more votes for ND.

– The only possible options for a ND/PASOK and 3rd party government are for ND/PASOK to go with either Independent Greeks (fairly right wing) or Democratic Left (a little bit left wing). IG is probably a non starter as Samaras and Kammenos could drink each others blood. Kammenos is on record stating that “Not even dead I would cooperate with ND.” Of course, a juicy Ministry portfolio might just trigger the Lazarus effect…

– Kouvelis is pro European, but most definitely anti austerity and has in his program the strict condition that any government his party would partake in would have to have the release from the Memorandum of Understanding as it’s first and only priority.

– Venizelos is licking his many wounds, after all he is the party leader who lost the birthplace of PASOK (Athens B) to SYRIZA with a resounding thumping. He is now advocating a “unity government” under the stewardship of PASOK, and becasue he believes he was the chief [STRIKE]sheep[/STRIKE] negotiator for the Memorandum of Understanding, he must of course be at the helm of such a government. Dream on Evangelos.

– Unless Samaras has a serious change of mind and lets Venizelos take the helm in a coalition government, the only option would be to go with New Dawn. And power hungry as they are, I don’t think either one of them is mad enough to contemplate that scenario. But then, this is Greece, you never know.

We are heading for a second round….

Meanwhile, the growling and snarling within the EU and IMF is getting louder by the minute.

But we only add (majorly I admit) to the headaches in Europe, together with the resignation of Junckers, the French Presidential Elections and the regional elections in Germany itself and to the demise of the German stranglehold on the EU.

After all this we might actually just end up with a EUROPEAN UNION instead of a GREATER GERMANY masquerading as a European Union.

Ephilant  7 May 2012


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