As Troika arrive in town, Ireland must break from the death grip of debt and austerity, or face economic depression
A second bailout would mean even more austerity, more privatisation of social services
In a statement to coincide with the arrival of the EU-IMF “Troika” for the fifth review of the EU-IMF programme for Ireland, Richard Boyd Barrett TD, Finance spokesperson for the United Left Alliance, warned that continuing down the road of “Troika” dictated bank bailouts and austerity was a dangerous slope leading to a 1930’s style economic depression.
Deputy Boyd Barrett said that with Ireland now facing the certainty of a second bail-out, it was clear that the policy of austerity and propping-up toxic banks was not working, and warned that any such new bail-out programme would be accompanied by demands for even more severe and damaging austerity.
Richard Boyd Barrett said: “As the Troika waltz into Ireland again today to give us another pat on the back while shoving more austerity down our throats, there is already talk of a second bailout over and above the existing €85 billion loan. This is proof that what the United Left Alliance has been saying all along is correct: the debt is unsustainable, the austerity measures imposed are depleting the economy and the markets know this – which is why they will not lend us money at reasonable cost. A second bailout, as irresponsibly advocated by Willhem Buiter of Citigroup, would mean further privatisation of public services, further pay cuts, more sales of state assets, and more austerity. Not only would a second bailout be tantamount to pouring water into a bottomless trough, but it may also lead to a 1930’s style economic depression.
The 1930’s Depression was preceded by a huge level of economic imbalance among countries and inequalities between elites and citizens. The world economy, and particularly the European economy, is now entering similar territory. Austerity is crippling economies and savaging living standards, and in many cases vulnerable citizens and the least well-off are falling off the edge of civil society all together.
Meanwhile in the East, with China leading the way, national revenues are rising as capitalism there enters a period of temporary growth. This global imbalance of wealth is not dissimilar to the one which preceded the 1930’s Great Depression. The global imbalance in the post-war world gave way to an immense financial disaster. This is a lesson that we cannot afford to ignore. And yet, ignoring it is precisely what our leaders in Europe have been doing.
Even more worrying than the global imbalance, is the growing inequality within European society. Ireland is no exception; we are witnessing the swelling of the low-income bracket as more and more people are laid off or are being forced to take pay cuts and have their pensions slashed.
Inequality in society also breeds racism, as the worst characteristics of people come to the fore under the pressure of joblessness and poverty. Racist tendencies, while thankfully not overwhelmingly widespread at the moment, do seem to be on the rise as evidenced by last month’s attack on an immigrant taxi driver in Limerick, and in the reported increase of racist abuse on the Luas.
Last month, the head of the IMF said that the world crisis “is not a crisis that will be resolved by one group of countries [but should be resolved] by all countries, all regions.” Lagarde was correct in pointing out that a world-wide solution to the current crisis is needed, however what she failed to mention is that it is precisely the policies of institutions like the IMF in prioritizing banks over people and demanding austerity to assuage the so-called markets that lies behind the ever-worsening crisis.
The only way out of this crisis, if we are to avoid the sort of disastrous economic depression that occurred in the 1930’s, is for working people and ordinary citizens to organize and resist the economic madness of IMF dictated austerity. We need a movement of people power to wrest control of the situation from the barely democratic politicians and unelected technocrats to whom we are currently surrendering our fate, and to demand the prioritization of jobs and social need over the interests of banks and corporate elites.
In this country we need mass protests and mobilization to put immense pressure on Enda Kenny and Eamon Gilmore to break out of the death grip of EU-IMF austerity, if our country is to have any future whatsoever.
If we do not force our leaders to reverse the sequence of errors they have been making, we may see the worst period of modern history repeat itself.”