There was a great cartoon doing the rounds a few months ago with the caption: THE WORLD OWES $52 trillion - TO WHOM? For the answer, let's start back a couple of centuries.
FIRST WORLD (USA/UK and their allies) V THE REST
- 1800: Three times richer
- 1970: 35 times richer
- 2013: 80 times richer.
How has this happened? Let’s look at another few numbers, and another question:
THIRD-WORLD AID OR THIRD-WORLD RAID?
Third-World Aid - the stream inward:
- €130bn annual ‘aid’:
Third-World Raid - the flood outward:
- €900bn Tax avoidance schemes by large corporations (‘Trade Mispricing’);
- €600bn Debt-servicing to rich countries;
- €500bn Estimated cost of Trade Rules drawn up and enforced by the first-world.
That’s €130bn going in, over €2tn (€2,000,000,000,000) flowing out from poor nations to rich, every year. Now, the picture begins to emerge, why it is the rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer, all of which leads to this:
DEBT DEFAULT – BUT WHOSE FAULT
You've heard of the ripple effect? That growing wave of debt in nations worldwide is resulting in a veritable tsunami of default. From a study by Ugo Panizza for the IMF in 2008, the following figures emerged.
Number of governments who have defaulted on any debts, including any kind of debt restructuring:
- 1941-1970: 6
- 1971-2004: 129
Ireland is not a Third-World country, nor remotely near it, and those of us who live and work here should be both appreciative and grateful for the bounty that surrounds us. But we are now sucked into this debt-spiral, caught in this debt-web. True, the €70bn we've paid to 'bail out' our banks doesn’t amount to a hill of beans in a global sense, not when put against the numbers above, but in Irish terms it is a sizeable amount, over half our annual GNP - our contribution to their coffers.
SLIDING SCALE – SLIPPERY SLOPE
Where is the money going? For the answer, let's look at a few very startling facts on global wealth distribution (if you could call it that):
- 1% own 43%;
- 50% own 1%.
On an individual basis, the richest 300 have the same wealth as the poorest 3bn (3,000,000,000 - more than the combined populations of India, China, USA & Brazil).
That's where we are now, in this year of our Lord 2013, that's the world we've made for ourselves, that obscene imbalance between the Haves and Have-Nots, an imbalance accelerating by the day never mind by the year.
This is neither incidental nor accidental; it is planned policy, very deliberate, it is those who are gathering all that wealth to themselves now dictating to those who supposedly make the rules and the laws - our governments.
STATE OF THE NATION
This Sunday Enda Kenny is going on national TV to give his version of The State Of The Nation. He’ll proclaim that we’re ‘EXITING THE BAILOUT!’, that we’re ‘RECLAIMING OUR SOVEREIGNTY!’ and his cheerleaders in the media will begin the spin.
All the people standing by cheered and cried, “Oh, how splendid are the Emperor's new clothes!”
The truth is that we never got a bailout and that we have surrendered our sovereignty indefinitely.
Banks and bondholders across the globe got the bailout, we were the ones footing that bill. What we got was a bail-in, not a cent of writeoff, debt on debt. We are, in fact, entering the fourth year of that bail-in and for the next four decades (at least) we are debt-enslaved to Europe.
We will emerge from this but we will do so in spite of this government, not because of them. In fact had they done what they were elected to do nearly three years ago and stood up to the EU/ECB on behalf of the people we would now be very firmly on the path to recovery.
GOVERNMENTS COWED AND COWARD
'We daren’t stand up to the markets – they’re so powerful, so threatening!’ that’s the cry of governments everywhere but of ours especially; ‘We've got to appease them, we have no choice but to impose austerity on you!'
And so they make good the failed investments of bankers, brokers and financiers, they facilitate the tax avoidance schemes of the various multi-nationals, they refuse to put even a minimal tax on some of the dodgier financial transactions, they strip away employee rights, bending and changing the law to whatever shape is required, and all the while forcing that debt burden onto their own people, cutting and slashing services, piling on regressive stealth taxes.
Appeasing the people isn't a priority of this government nor of the EU/ECB. They have made their choice.
We too have a choice. Do we accept this, or do we fight back.
At 2pm this Saturday, December 14th, at the Opera House in Cork, a few of us from Ballyhea and Charleville who have been campaigning for nearly three years will join others who have started that fight-back. Stand up, be counted - join us.
Regards, Diarmuid O'Flynn.