Finance bill – ordinary people continue to pay for crisis

The government’s newest job creation gimmick revealed in the Finance Bill just published, really does point up its policy bankruptcy in dealing with the crisis of mass unemployment in the State. The huge tax break offered to senior executives earning up to half a million Euro per annum, who work for transnational corporations and would be prepared to move here for one year, is supposed to attract some of the ‘brightest and best’ to come and do something to create jobs in this economy.

A few dozen individuals may avail of this tax carrot. As they arrive in Dublin Airport, they will be met by thousands of our home grown ‘brightest and best’ heading in the opposite direction, being forced out by the failure of the insane austerity programme of the Irish government backed by the Troika of the EU/ECB/IMF representing the capitalist establishment of Europe. Truly, this is a government that has chronically lost its way before it ever found it.

Meanwhile, in the public sector, the Minister for Health is writing the script for what would be a hilarious farce if the subject matter weren’t so serious. And the plot – thousands of Health Service workers are cajoled to resign from their vital jobs to save money. As they leave their workplaces for the last time, many meet their very own shadows coming back in to fill the same jobs! Hard to blame them if, like the government, they don’t know whether they are coming or going.

These are the policies of the madhouse. Not surprising because they were concocted by the owners and managers of the madhouse that is the financial markets system and blessed by a subservient political establishment. Like a severely delusional patients, government ministers believe the same managers when they are patted on the head and told they are doing great work.

Those who patronise the Irish people with praise about how stoic and accepting they are of austerity have a heavy vested interest in a continuation of the bailout of the capitalist financial system in Europe and Ireland. One such is Michael Hasenstab a major boss of the bond trading US company, Franklin Templeton Investments, which controls a vast fund of over €100 billion and revealed this week as a gambler in Irish government bonds.

Writing in The Wall Street Journal last October, Mr Hasenstab praised Ireland’s ‘general social consensus – in contrast to the rioting and protests seen further south in Europe’ . ‘Austerity is a bitter pill to swallow, but Ireland’s citizens understand there was no easy way out of their predicament and that their short term sacrifices are laying the ground for sustainable growth in the future.’

This is somewhat reminiscent of the religious preachers parodied by the great Swedish/American labour movement activist and martyr, Joe Hill, in his song ‘The Preacher and The Slave’ written in 1911:

You will eat, bye and bye,/In that glorious land above the sky;/Work and pray, live on hay,/You’ll get pie in the sky when you die

Unfortunately Mr Hasenstab’s ‘sustainable growth’ is pie in the sky since the prospects for the Irish economy have been severely written down since he wrote that. The austerity he praises is killing growth and jobs and stripping our services bare and, as we see in the Finance Bill the government having enslaved itself to this policy is hopelessly floundering.

Austerity is about transfusing massive resources from the Irish people to salvage the financial speculators who gambled on the Irish property splurge and affording new gamblers, like Mr Hasenstab, obscene profits. The suggestion this week is that his fund has €4 billion in bonds guaranteed by the Irish government, which he was able to buy for a cut price that will yield close to €800 million in speculative profits. No wonder he wants to flatter us into continuing to bailout the bondholders while our society is being destroyed in the process.

Evidence is growing, however, that the ordinary people of this State are running out of patience. The huge turnouts at major public meetings organised to fight the parallel tier of taxation envisaged by the government in the form of household, water and septic tank taxes, indicate that a revolt is gathering pace. This is not just a preemptive move to shield themselves from another intolerable economic burden as these taxes rise to over €1,000 per year. It is developing into a movement against the policy of austerity per se.

The government has set March 31 as the deadline for registration for the Household Tax and a first payment. If, as now seems certain, a mass Boycott is in place at that stage, the government and its Troika managers will learn to their horror that a serious fight for fundamental change in direction has opened up