How did it come to this? (Caution, Rant ahead!)
April 8, 2010

Lo folks. Ive spent most of the last two days grinding my teeth over this unholy sh1tstorm that has blown over us. €75 Bn in loans to absolve the gambling debts of organizations representing the highest number of Sociopaths in the nation. And the majority of this is being poured into a Bank in is now almost synonymous with Celtic Tiger era excess and shady Political connections.

How the hell does a nations debt double? We did not come under attack from a hostile nation. We were not afflicted by a cataclysmic natural disaster. Yet here we are. No one has at the time of writing been identified by our courts as guilty. No one has gone to prison. Somehow, we lost a decade of progress, a generation once again considering their options abroad and the looming specter of mass Privatization just to pay the National heating bill.

How in FUCK did it get to this? Its not like Nama or the Bank recapitalizations crept up on us. They have been two years in the making on the back of a Worldwide recession, itself a further two years in the making. We have had plenty of notice. I started this thread to have a discussion on what exactly allowed our Government to make the debts of Privately owned, Privately funded and Privately run Financial Institutions at a stroke become our problem and our children’s problem

– Ignorance. To be clear, the word does not mean Stupid or daft. Its just plain unaware of whats going on. We do not have any meaningful subjects or even discussions on Politics or Economics at the Primary school level. By the time it reaches Secondary, and it may be different where you were, Civics was a very watered down National Discussion and Business subjects were things you had to apply to do. There is no way that these subjects were thought to us the same way English or Geography were. Too bad, as they have always had the most bearing on the way our Nation and World are run.

Is that Deliberate? Better to keep us uninformed and ignorant of what we see on the 6 o clock news every night? Or are we just thick? To be sure, its one hell of a complicated subject. I got an education myself since all this has blown up. Fractional reserve banking, the IMF, CDCs, subordinated debt….sounds very boring until you research the subject and realize, Holy Shit! this is exactly how the world has been run since I was born. Why am I only finding out about this now? Ive known people who have owed Thousands of euro to companies who charge APR at 22%. Ive had a sizable Credit card debt myself at one point, a reason why i would never demonize someone who has landed themselves in stupid debt. Its easy done if your not aware of the pitfalls.

No one, bar our parents maybe, ever kicked our backsides hard enough over the dangers over not knowing what we do with our money or what we do with our vote. Growing up in the 70/80s, I was constantly subjected to the dangers of eating before swimming. I never ever had an ad tell me of the perils of Hire Purchase.

Am I too Cynical or does that just suit certain agendas….?

– Respect of Authority. “You should Respect your Betters!” Martin Manseragh once told an FG senator who dared questions Bertie Aherns Finances. In our current political system, Representative Democracy, we vote for our Government and then let them off the leash for a period of 5 years where we cannot touch them. Whatever they decide, goes. A lot like living with your parents actually, where Mammy justified my early bedtime by saying “Because I said so.” Recent revelations about the Catholic Church have shown a side of this country that few of the younger generations can get their heads around. Women incarcerated in Labour camps for the crime of having a child outside of wedlock. And no one uttered a word of protest for generations. Now Thats power. Thats Authority.

I find this particularly disappointing. We revel in our history of Brian Boru, The Earls, Wolfe Tone and the United Irish, Daniel O Connell, Michael Davitt, Michael Collins, James Connolly et al. People who fought for our Freedom through Peace and Violence. And after 800 years, we pushed out our occupiers and allowed the home-grown variety to rules us in exactly the same way.

Does it continue to this day? We seem to take an awful lot for granted from our “Betters”. Election Manifestos are treated as Legal Contracts. We assume that Brians Cowen and Lenihan have our best interest at heart. Again, I have friends and neighbours who quote their assurances verbatim, as if no Politician has ever gone back on a commitment or bended the truth. Or told an outright lie, safe in the knowledge that they would not be challenged.

On one hand we seem to have a healthy distrust of all authority. So why do so many seem willing to take the word of a badly discredited crew? Do we elect our National lawmakers and Legislators based on their Local Politics ability? ( I know of one good friend of the family who had voted for a former PD TD for two elections in a row. They reported a large pothole outside their house. A week later, said TD arrives with the county engineer. Pothole is fixed and votes are assured for a decade. )

Maybe the way out of this mess lies in the realisation after 2010, no Authority can be trusted to do whats right for the people. We need to take a more active role in our own lives and our Communities. We can only save ourselves, not much will happen if we sit on our collective holes waiting for them to be rescued.

– Capitalism. I remember listening to the Ryan Tubridy show about a year ago. He had a few young folks on discussing life in the recession which might not have been as apocalyptic back then. he read out a text he got at the end of his show from someone in their fifties who recalled the Recession before this one and the one before that. I was struck by that. I had forgotten it until recently. I heard Bill Cullen air his views on the current situation and he used the word “Cyclical” to describe it. Then a couple of weeks later on Rte, I heard one of the Investors of Dragons Den say the exact same thing. Cyclical. What a word. It implies that whats happening right now is perfectly natural. Like the Seasons, Our rotation around the Sun and Hailey’s Comet. Bound to happen. Nothing anyone can do.

I call BS. The whole Boom-Bust cycle is completely artificial, the logical conclusion to Free Capitalism. Everyone chases the easy money rather than actually work for it. Things get inflated beyond proportion and eventually it collapses. This “Natural” occurrence has some unfortunate side effects such as mass unemployment, family breakups and people losing the Roof over their heads. It is of course completely Avoidable. But the prevailing mantra is Free-market economics. No rules or Regulations, just let em at it. The market will find its level, Invisible Hand, Trickle Down etc.

Too bad. We almost had a discussion on this. For a time, Capitalism was finally being discussed, not the side effects but the system itself. It seemed to die off though and once again Normal service has been resumed. Now we can only talk about fixing our problems within the context of the system that has brought it about.

Karl Marx commented that History repeats itself, first as Tragedy then as Farce. How many more of these “Natural” occurances will we go through before we finally shout stop? Have we resigned ourselves to “Shit Happens” and lets just deal with it and get on with. Does anyone seriously believe that this is the last time we will see this kind of Crash?

– Rank Corruption. Dodgy, this one. No direct proof exists of course. But stil….Anglo : Nationalization of a Bank with feck all branches around the country that dealt almost exclusively with major Property developers. Why do we own them? Whats ever happened to that Garda raid that no one seems to talk about now? How have You and I wound up the owner of a Bank that has just posted the largest loss in Irish Corporate History? Why is it that you and me are about to pour €18Bn into it?
– Apathy. Of the two marches against Nama that took place in Dublin last year, the second and larger one was officially reported at 5000. Thats 5000 people who made up their minds to spend a Sunny Saturday afternoon, 2 hours in total, making a statement that they did not want the National debt doubled simply to help out the most Powerful institutions in the land. The same number was attributed to a Pro-hunt rally In Waterford.

Do we really believe that its only worth fighting over small local issues? that the big ones that have the most influence over our lives are totally out of our control? I got a real sense of this during the run up to the second Lisbon referendum. I voted No as did so many I talked to. However, by the time the second vote came around, many had decided not to Vote at all. I cant blame them. Michael Martin, on the very Evening of the first Lisbon vote would not rule out a second attempt when directly questioned. A repeat of the Nice referendum.

Of course it just instaills a complete sense of powerless-ness in people. Who cares how they vote, they will be asked again until the right answer is given. Then you have conscientious TDs like Ned O Keefe who states “I’m a member of the Fianna Fáil party and I will vote with the party”. So there it is in Black and White. The wishes of the electorate be damned. Whatever the Brass decide, I shall follow. The party whip will make sure of that.

I was listening to Newstalk this morning, around 9am Tom Dunne comes on. He told us to stay tuned : he would have a financial expert on to tell us about the ramification of Tuesdays happenings. Very little coverage or Financial experts in recent weeks, even years while all of this was building up. Nobody seemed bothered to do anything about it while we had a chance. Its much better to rave about it now that its done. Then listen to some chart music.

So thats me. What say ye?

BrendanGalway  2.4.2010