Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Forget it Biffo!


Scapegoating public sector workers with a 7% levy on their income to add to their pension fund is the one big idea announced in the Dáil today by Brian “Biffo” Cowen as his solution to the current financial crisis. Following months of government dithering accompanied by a sustained campaign of direct slander and abuse of public sector workers, which includes doctors, nurses, transport workers in bus and rail, local authority workers, notably by the O’Reilly Press and Fine Gael, all Cowen’s shambolic government can come up with is this attack on the standard of living of those working in the public sector.
What the government announced yesterday is a direct transfer of wealth from workers to their own pension fund which has already been targeted by the Government for re-distribution to the delinquent Banks to the tune of €6-8Bn. This government is robbing the National Pension Reserve to bail out another gang of robbers, the Commercial Banks, who are the ones primarily responsible for the financial crisis. In other words, the public sector workers are being forced to subsidise the mistakes of a gang of irresponsible and greedy financial tricksters several of whom have departed the scene of the crime while pocketing millions of euros in ill-gotten gains. A new form of social welfare for the rich at the expense of low-paid workers.
Apart from vague references to “broadening the tax base”, something which should have been done years ago, there are no concrete proposals to increase taxes on those holding massive capital assets and cash hoards in this country and various tax-havens abroad. There are no plans for preserving employment as dole queues pass the 300,000 mark. The Government has used their delaying tactics trying to drag the Trade Unions into a cover-up for the failures of the financial system while the fat-cats jettison their toxic debts onto the exchequer and swan off to the Bahamas with their cash hoards. So far, the Trade Unions have refused to be conned in this way and have, quite rightly, rejected the Government’s schemes. There will be the usual shrill headlines in the O’Reilly Press and the outbursts of the Screaming Mimis of TV and Radio about “national interest” and “solidarity” but these harpies should be ignored. What is needed now is an alternative programme of economic re-structuring and development in the real “national interest”, that is the interest of the people who actually do the work which creates the national wealth from the rich resources of land and materials and talented people which we have.
The real way to guarantee buying power is to guarantee decent wages. Instead of reducing wages and cutting jobs and services the Government must create an expanded public enterprise sector, businesses collectively owned by their employees. Waterford Glass is one example of where this could begin. This asset of craft workers and an internationally recognized product should be retained for our economy by setting it up as a worker-owned co-operative with state financial backing. Finance could be provided immediately by nationalising the entire banking system (see FPB’s article below) and directly lend money to companies who make real products or provide services both for our home market and international trade. This is the real solution to the economic crisis, which will occur again and again if the economy is not restructured and we go back to the debt-ridden, wage-cutting, sell-out to foreign monopolies, policies of FF/PD and their cronies in IBEC and CIF.
The so-called “Celtic Tiger” has been a sham and a fraud. It is now beyond time that its inevitable demise be acknowledged and a Government put in office which will rebuild the Irish economy in the interests of those who’s labour by hand and brain creates the wealth that actually exists, as distinct from the paper mountains sat on by the speculators of finance capital.

FearFeasa Mac Léinn
Áth Cliath/DUBLIN, 04 Feabhra/February 2009.

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