From Democracy to Idiocracy

April 12, 2015

We should give praise for the existence of Irish Water. Given the amount of public opposition to its inception and continuing existence any political party supporting it should deservedly be called  the Lemming Party in terms of its political chances for re-election. At least it ensures  the present incumbents will not be re-electedwaitingLists

No doubt the troika when it was first mooted by Enda Kenny would have cannily supported the notion of a device that would take water out of the Irish deficit spending contingency fund thereby allowing such funds to flow more freely to bondholders.

Common sense should have warned the Irish electorate were not in mind to waste valuable resources on a quango that was built to make a mess bigger on their tab.

We recall in 2011:

“Charles Dallara, managing director of the Institute of International Finance, a Washington-based trade group that represents the world’s largest banks, said the group would work with Greece, euro-zone authorities and the International Monetary Fund to develop a concrete, voluntary agreement that should set the basis for a decline in Greece’s debt to GDP ratio to 120% by 2020.

“The specific terms and conditions of the voluntary [private-sector involvement] will be agreed by all relevant parties in the coming period and implemented with immediacy and force,” Dallara said, in a statement. “The structure of the new Greek claims will need to be based on terms and conditions that ensure [a net present value] loss for investors fully consistent with a voluntary agreement.””

In a disastrous move Irish authorities in 2008 decided on a bank guarantee that brought the Irish state to the brink of insolvency. Compounding the idiocy the Irish state went on to assume ownership of a €67bn bailout whose terms in odious and penal interest rates were radically worse than those offered to Greece and Portugal.

Some amelioration of rates subsequently were watered down in amortization of a promissory note €30bn for Anglo-Irish Bank and other extend and pretend legally enforceable Irish coupon clippings.

Instead of lobbying to vindicate rights to a voluntary agreement requiring debt burden sharing among senior bondholders, Irish authorities never even fought this battle instead insisting with its opponents that such losses to be levied on bondholders, were unacceptable!

It could be argued that the wealthiest section of the Irish financial world agreed to rigorous austerity for the electorate in return for special privileges protecting their wealth. Indeed evidence is there that the dichotomy between rich and poor in Irish society has grown since 2008 with greatest burden of austerity falling onto the shoulders of the poor.

You might wonder that a plethora of means to address the tsunami of a possible 50,000 Irish mortgages in arrears with upwards of 30,000 homes facing repossession, would focus and address this crisis in a meaningful way. You would be wrong. Instead we find an industrial army of professionals working through individual cases based on rules of divide and conquer extraction of resources from already burdened borrowers.

One measure imposed by the banks is extortionate interests rates of 4.5% imposed on Irish variable rate borrowers who are managing to pay back their borrowings, that compared to comparable rates of 2.5% provided by banks in other European countries giving them a healthy return on their Central Bank borrowings of less than 1%. On €250,000 average mortgage for some borrowers means they are paying in excess of €6000 margin over what their counterparts in Europe have to pay.

Did I mention rocketing rental rates in Dublin and countrywide because of a housing shortage when we have vast numbers of builders unemployed but willing to contribute their resources to growing our economy.

Banks oppose construction and release of the Nama stockpiles because it would lead to falling asset prices. The anomaly of austerity induced restricted lending practices created by banks and financial institutions further eroding economic development, but adding to their bottom line as they gain from the uptick as well as the down swing, ponder.

The Irish economy is in a state of chassis. Perhaps the credit union movement can mobilise and create its own public state bank to provide competition against the worst excess of banking bad practices.

The case for a single best case scenario solution ameliorating the problems for the individual and society would appear to be compelling.

The Icelandic debt relief programme.

From Iceland, we have reports of a governmental mortgage debt relief programme which would involve the write-off of €24,000 from individual household mortgages at a reported cost of around €1.2 Billion. The government contends that the measure will enhance households’ disposable income and thereby “kick-start” the economy by boosting the capacity of consumers to spend. The measure, which has a political dimension to it (it is reported to be a pre-election commitment from parties now forming the Government), has been criticised by international institutions such as the IMF and the OECD on the basis that it will negatively impact on the economy, on government debt and on the ability of Iceland to attract foreign investment. ”

“The government said it would finance the measure through tax hikes on financial institutions and a haircut on around $4 billion in debts owed to overseas investors in Iceland’s failed banks, which collapsed in late 2008.”

Haircuts to troika bailout to pay for a similar exercise in Ireland are not being considered. Instead of which we have a myriad of competing solutions competing to waste time and expense while causing the most amount of stress to borrowers.

Government will of course deny any of this is true pointing to Ireland’s alleged recovery.

A falling unemployment rate based on the quick sand of dodgy statistics that do not take forced emigration into account or the abuse of zero hour contracts amounting to hard to fathom phantom jobs in, for example, the Jobbridge programme where internships amount to free labour in private companies and in state public services, all together make idiots of us all.

There is of course a rump of financial services consultants, bankers and politicians and an army of legal paper merchants doing very well out of this delusional mess.

“New waiting list figures from the National Treatment Purchase Fund show there were over 405,000 people waiting to be seen at an outpatient clinic for the first time at the end of March.

The number of adults and children waiting for a day-case or inpatient treatment is also up to 66,800.

A contributory factor is emergency department overcrowding, which has led to cancelled planned operations.”

Another contributory factor is the diversion of resources from hospital wards to deal with the crisis of patients on trolleys who await a hospital bed numbers reaching over 600 on one day in January last.

You would imagine all available resources to manage such a situation could be marshalled at once to bring down such terrible waiting lists.

Instead we have a proposal to provide free universal healthcare for the under 6’s. As an anxious parent myself having raised four children through the early years, it took some discipline coupled with experience to avoid taking each of my under 6’s to the doctor on every occasion they looked pale before a Winter cold.

That problem should inundate GP’s with unnecessary visits. With medical cards being refused for 7yr olds with a diagnosis of cancer, we are not only required to suspend our disbelief at the scheme, we need to be total idiots and abandon all common sense.

You would think education could be spared. Huge cutbacks in research funding in Irish universities mean continuing loss of jobs and negative impact on further research for PhD programmes and further drops in standards.

At second level under the mask of reform comes a proposal to scrap the Junior Certificate and remove regulation and erode objective standards in Irish Education. Proposals exist to have teachers set the examinations and correct them thus taking away real-time for actually teaching children.

To have teachers correct public examinations set for their pupils would appear to be ridiculous? But teachers set examinations and homework on a regular basis.

However, the  thought of exposing teachers to parent/pupil pressure and face retribution from schools and principals hiding poor results, bias, makes no sense. But this is the educational currency of the moment, folks. Defies belief until you find hidden cost cutting measures and austerity at its root.

Teaching standards are further eroded with a plethora of part-time teachers providing lack of continuity for students and lack of security and stability for the future of this teaching cohort.

Yesterday, Eamon Lillis, a convicted wife killer, walked free  having inherited well over 1 million € from properties jointly owned with his wife. He spent 5 yrs in prison for this crime. The legal profession have known for 5 yrs he would walk free and inherit the results of his crime.

“The Law Reform Commission is looking at whether judges should have the discretion to decide a killer’s entitlement to property jointly held with the victim, such as in domestic violence cases.”

I kid you not, they are still looking at it.

“Senator Quinn”, according to Maeve Sheehan, Irish Independent, p5, 12 April 2015:

“His succession (Amendment) Bill 2015 proposes that where one joint tenant kills another, not only would the offender have no entitlement to the victim’s share of the property, he/she won’t be entitled to avail of his or her own share in the property either”

There are another 1000 repossession cases listed for the courts next week. Presumably taxpayers will need to pay for their homeless needs at some point. But no one can pay for the amount of stress they are put under.

The mess is growing bigger and if you can point out an example of any idiotic measures of a political nature, feel free to add it to the comments section.

Don’t be afraid to say ‘The emperor has no cloths on’.


till again.



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