The Bealach To Serfdom

While things look pretty bleak in America, we can take comfort from the fact that we aren't alone in letting our economy get looted by multinational financial institutions. In Ireland, where eyes are doing anything but smiling, things are getting

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While things look pretty bleak in America, we can take comfort from the fact that we aren't alone in letting our economy get looted by multinational financial institutions. In Ireland, where eyes are doing anything but smiling, things are getting really dire:

The cost of bailing out the Republic of Ireland's stricken banks has risen to 45bn euro (£39bn), opening a huge hole in the Irish government's finances.

Oh. That sounds bad.

The increased cost will see the government run a budget deficit equivalent to 32% of GDP this year.

Yeah, that's pretty bad. But how much will this hurt Seamus Average?

Mr Lenihan defended the cost of the bail-out measures, which will cost the Republic's two million taxpayers the equivalent of 22,500 euros each

Holy crap! And the Irish have already implemented austerity measures to raise taxes and cut public services. Does this mean they'll have to do even more of that to pay for yet another massive bank bailout? Why, yes it does:

Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan today warned that further austerity measures will have to be imposed after the Central Bank revealed the total cost of the bailout for Irish banks will be almost €50 billion. [...]

Speaking separately, Taoiseach Brian Cowen refused to rule out further tax increases in the forthcoming Budget and said "revenue raising" options would be required as well as spending cuts in the Budget, which is due to take place in December.

Speaking on RTE radio at lunchtime, Mr Cowen refused to outline how much would have to be found through austerity measures.

Ireland, then, is becoming a feudal state where people are taxed not to pay for police, fire departments, schools, hospitals or pensions. Instead they're taxed to bail out failed financial institutions. And what's more, they're having their taxes increased to bail out failed financial institutions. The banks are the feudal lords living in castles and the taxpayers are the serfs.

But hey, some people are happy about this charming turn of events! Here's Danny McCoy, the director-general at the Irish Business and Employers Confederation (which I gather is their version of the Chamber of Commerce):

The announcement of the final scale of its bank rescue plan concludes a month in which the troubles of Ireland’s economy have again been centre stage. Rating agencies and analysts have questioned the capacity of our small economy to cope with its emerging debt. Ireland has also become a test bed for state recovery strategies, including the introduction of austerity measures and the resolution of complex banking problems.

Thursday’s figures reveal the undeniably high, but manageable, costs of the domestic bank bail-out. The one-off impact is to push the ratio of deficit to gross domestic product to 32 per cent. However, the Irish government has also committed to framing a budgetary plan to reduce the underlying deficit to 3 per cent by 2014. This plan will help to satisfy market concerns by providing clarity on the scale of the painful, but deliverable, fiscal adjustments needed in coming years. And underneath, Ireland’s economy is much stronger than it at first appears.

Well yeah, you definitely don't want to go by how it "appears," do you? Because it appears that Ireland has unemployment of almost 14%. That's, like, pretty bad and stuff. But Mr. McCoy tells us the Irish are eating their crap sandwich and loving it:

Difficult though the situation is, the state has reacted swiftly. Stern measures to address the public finances – including public sector wage cuts, expenditure cuts and increases in personal taxation – have been introduced with widespread acceptance by the public.

Acceptance. Riiiiiiiight. That's why the ruling Fianna Fáil party is facing a nine-point deficit against the center-left Labour Party. After all, who doesn't love having their taxes jacked up even as their pension gets slashed? It's like having an angel eat whipped cream off your nipples!

Measures to fix the banking crisis through a new National Asset Management Agency have received a more mixed reaction. However, the aim of taking bad property loans off bank balance sheets to enable recapitalisation is sound.

Oh joys! The Irish have their own version of Timmy Geithner's cash-for-trash initiative! I can't imagine why that would get a mixed review! After all, buying worthless housing securities is almost as much fun as having your pension looted!

Of course, I shouldn't mock the Irish too much for their impending enslavement by the financial industry. After all, as Digby notes, we're about to get the same treatment here in the US:

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) slammed Democrats Thursday for campaigning against Republicans on Social Security.

At an event for the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget Thursday morning, he took on Democrats who have gone after Republican candidates for supporting Ryan’s Roadmap for America’s Future. The plan includes partial privatization of accounts for those under 55.

What! How dare you campaign against policy proposals I made! The opposition party isn't supposed to oppose things!

“We’ve got to get beyond weaponizing these issues for political gain in the short run,” he said, adding that Congress and President Barack Obama aren’t offering any solutions on Social Security. “We’ve got to get through this political moment. The political weaponization of entitlement reform is very unfortunate. It’s hurting our chances of actually getting bipartisan agreement in the near future. It’s unfortunate but we’ve got to get out there."

Gee, Paul, I'd feel so bad for you, except Republicans have successfully and relentlessly weaponized any and all tax increases for the past 30 years.

Anyway, I hope lots of people are prepared to fight this crap in the coming years. Our corrupt business and political elites aren't satisfied with the looting they gave us with the 2008 financial crisis. They're going to start coming after everything else we have too.

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