The European Union megastate is again tottering on the brink today, as Ireland is the latest member state to face a financial reckoning. Ireland, like Greece before it and possibly like Portugal and Spain after it, is unable to pay its bills. Unlike Greece, which went essentially bankrupt earlier this year due to a long-time socialist spending spree, Ireland has gotten into its trouble as a direct result of the 45-billion-Euro bailout of its five largest banks in 2008. Perhaps the banks were too big to fail, but not so Ireland, the erstwhile “Celtic tiger.”
Come December 6, Ireland is scheduled to celebrate eighty-eight years of independence from Britain. It may be a hollow celebration if the European Central Bank has its way. Already in control of a large part of Ireland’s banking apparatus, the ECB and the IMF are anxious to erase what sovereignty the formerly Irish Free State has left by forcing upon her a 77-billion-Euro payment with all the conditions and requirements such a “gift” entails. Ireland, for its part, is opposing a surrender to the international banks but this may just be grandstanding for the home crowd, seeing that national elections are due this month.
France and other southern European nations are pushing for the bailout (ie, takeover). They are resentful of the “low-tax, deregulated model” that helped Ireland achieve its now defunct “Celtic tiger” status. Ireland, you see, has an ultra-low 12.5 per cent corporate tax, which had made it a magnet for foreign investment. French president Sarkozy met with Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou in Paris this week to plot how to force Ireland to submit and accept the “generosity” of its EU neighbors. Interestingly, in a fine example of the pot calling the kettle black, Papandreou was forced to admit at the same time that Greece, an earlier beneficiary of IMF largesse, still has not gotten its financial affairs in order and will have to default on its scheduled belt tightening.
In case anyone is wondering, maybe knowing the primary reason the Greek pm was in Paris will shed some light. Papandreou was attending a meeting of the Party of European Socialists, a branch of the Socialist International, which he heads.
While the socialists met in Paris, over in Berlin, European Council President Hermann van Rompuy gave a speech before the German parliament, in which he declared, “The time of the homogenous nation state is over.” That should make the issue plain enough for the Irish holdouts. Merkel’s government, which tends to understand economics a bit better than some of its European cohorts, is pushing for bond markets to take some of the financial hits that are sure to come, rather than force the taxpayers of the member states to bear all the burden. That is all in a Berlin-sponsored plan scheduled to take effect in a couple of years. The government is known to fear that a refusal at this point on the part of Ireland to accept the bailout might put that future plan in jeopardy. Merkel’s government is denying, however, that it has put any pressure on Ireland to knuckle under.
To complicate matters further, the aforementioned German plan to spread the pain amongst private investors is being opposed by none other than the head socialist himself, PM Papandreou. Papandreou, like any doctrinaire socialist, abhors anything private and wants government to handle everything. Although Germany has been Greece’s primary benefactor through all its recent troubles, any suggestion coming from anyone that the solution to socialism’s problems is not more socialism is anathema. Meanwhile, back home in Athens, Papandreou’s fellow travelers in the Communist Party have taken to the streets to protest the idea that they might have to swallow any austerity measures at all.
Of course, Berlin is not supporting fiscal austerity because of a love of free markets. It sees clearly that the Euro is in trouble and, as Merkel has said recently in so many words, if the Euro goes, so goes the EU. The dream of a consolidated European superstate was originally a German idea, let us not forget.
Meanwhile, Portugal and Spain watch anxiously what happens to Ireland as the European dominoes begin to fall. Ireland’s economy is on little better than life support these days and her people, especially her young people, understand it all too clearly. With the national unemployment rate hovering around fifteen per cent, an estimated 1250 students leave the country every month, most of them heading for the non-Eurozone United Kingdom. It is predicted that in the next five years, as many as 150,000 young people will have left the Emerald Isle.
Combine this exodus with an appallingly low reproduction rate among those Irish who do stay, and inevitably the chorus arises, Who is to replace them? Who else but people whose countries are even worse off”ie, the third world.
Thus does the West destroy itself.