Posts Tagged ‘socialism

07
Sep
09

I’m voting No ’cause Lisbon won’t sort out that rattling sound in my engine

With the Lisbon II campaign officially under way, it’s been interesting to see who’s been crying for a no vote, and why. First off, there are a lot of empty seats at the back. Amazingly, the bauld Ganley has seemingly kept his promise to stay out of it should Libertas do badly in the European elections. I didn’t expect that. I thought we’d have every media outlet in the country saturated with his opinions (if perhaps through proxies). Perhaps working with Libertas really was a miserable experience for all involved.

Also marked by his absence this time around is Kevin Myers. Not a word has he devoted to Lisbon in his Indo column; odd given is highly vocal objections last year. I don’t recall all his arguments, but I happen to know his main objection was the possibility of Turkey (ie, a Muslim country) joining the EU. I know this because he told me so in conversation (I interviewed him for my thesis). Now he didn’t say it was ok to quote him on this, but he didn’t indicate he was speaking off the record either so I assume he doesn’t mind me repeating it here. Given recent tirades against immigration, one must assume he hasn’t changed his mind. There’s time for him to speak up yet.

Other no-shows include Ulick, seemingly rendered too shy in the presence of Sinn Féin supporters. As such, the campaign for a No vote has been largely left to the Shinners, those wicked cunts in Cóir and Joe Higgins’ socialists. There are others of course, such as Unite breaking ranks with their fellow trade-unions, but for the sake of clarity let’s say these three are the golden trinity of naysayers. Of these Joe appears to have adopted the mantle of the No side’s grandmaster. Last year he was waxing lyrical about Europe’s military industrial complex. I saw him at a public debate in Trim with Ganley and Dick Roche and a few other vested interests. When it was Joe’s turn to speak he banged on with is best Jim Larkin impression, shoutin’ and roarin’ like a mad thing about profits made by European arms manufacturers, and getting only nervous sideway-glances in response. This time his argument is more measured, complaining that anti-worker rulings by the European Court of Justice will be copper-fastened under the treaty.

His claim seems to have formed the No side’s central argument. And honestly, I don’t have the wherewithal to challenge it. I’ll allow more learned men to fight this case. However, I must challenge Higgins’ apparent concern that “the reality is that Lisbon grants no new rights for workers”. Why would it? We might as well complain that it doesn’t say anything about fighting pollution, it doesn’t control John O’Donoghue’s spending, and it doesn’t force a videogame company to release Duke Nukem Forover. The Lisbon treaty’s charge is surely the numerous organs of the EU, ensuring they work efficiently together. It is these organs that ensure workers rights, and Lisbon facilities that. Now we can complain about ideology and ECJ rulings ‘til the cows come home, but if we take the EU as a whole I think most will agree Irish workers have benefited from it.

18
Feb
09

Dermot O’Leary can go fuck himself

I was interviewed yesterday on the lunchtime show on 102-104FM regarding this blog, where I accidentally proclaimed that I’m joining the Socialist Party. I’m not. I don’t have a problem with Joe Higgins and co (in fact, Clare Daly has helped me out with a couple of pieces I’ve done in the past), but I’m not a socialist. I am, despite my present condition, a believer in the Capitalist model, just as long as it’s even slightly regulated. The reason for my unintended commitment to Marxism was that I was thrown by the question (enquiring if I might enter politics to see if I can do a better job than the current shower), and I suddenly recalled sentiments I expressed earlier in the day as I read the papers and began to suspect the socialists are right.

Economists with Goodbody stockbrokers are warning that the economy will shrink by 6% this year, and in response the government should cut social welfare payments (which seems like a good opportunity to recall my opinion on economists. For all that people like O’Leary know, we’re better off investing in an online casino than following their advice). Naturally, I was pissed. It’s not that I’m concerned with my own pocket, at least not primarily. The issue I have with this is the signal it sends out, and what it says about the capitalist’s thinking in this crisis.

Earlier this month the government faced anger (and will probably go on to face strike action) from lower civil servants over their cost-cutting pension levy plan. In practise (and it seems Lenihan didn’t quite realise this) the higher-paid civil servants will be less affected by the levy than the rank-and-file. The burden for fixing this recession is placed squarely on the lower-paid worker. And now, in the report titled A Rocky Road Ahead by Goodbody economists Dermot O’Leary and Deirdre Ryan, the idea is to cut support for those most affected by the recession by reducing dole payments by at least 3% (as well as cutting grants for students, which again are offered to those from low-income families).

The article that covered this in yesterday’s Daily Mirror highlighted that every 1,000 on the dole cost the state €11 million. This to me sounds awfully like the repeated language used in the media last year to highlight what a burden on the taxpayer the civil service is. It conveniently pastes over the fact that the unemployed, as with the civil service, are not the ones responsible for the recession. They are, in fact, the victims of it.

And what do we do with those who are responsible? Well, they get €7 billion bailouts, legislation guaranteeing deposits, and – if they really screw up – nationalisation. All necessary, perhaps, but it does kinda suggest Marx was right.

As for the suggestion by Dermot O’Leary that unemployed people wouldn’t lose out due to a general fall in prices, people are losing out as it is. I know many people (myself included) who are being kicked out of their homes because the can’t meet mortgage and rent costs. To tell these people that they can save 5% on a bag of carrots is highly insulting.

Anyway, I want to thank 102-104FM for their interest in this blog and what I’m trying to do here. I’m still not quite sure what it is that I’m trying to do here, but I appreciate the support.