The first point about economic planning in Ireland is that it should be done in the service of the Irish people. It will not shock very many if we suggest that this is not currently the case; our economy is geared completely in the service of foreign finance monopolies and large scale industry, the multinational corporations.
There are two key elements in our current economic plan, if ‘plan’ is a fair word for it:
Let’s look at the current situation:
Firstly, pay the finance monopolies at all costs.
This means to keep the ‘confidence’ of the world financial markets (where speculators thrive), by ensuring they get their pound of flesh, whatever the costs to Irish people, our lives and future. More money has been spent in this frantic effort than on any other issue of national importance, EVER. Answering to the finance monopolies and bond speculators seems to have a ‘no opt out’ following no matter what the scale or conditions imposed or removed, and no matter what the majority of citizens want. There is no shortage of ‘experts’ brought out to impress upon us the importance of keeping the international banks and speculators happy, most of these experts are well paid for their ‘advice’, many are direct or indirect employees of the state or of some institution that is a direct beneficiary. Perhaps, when it comes to advice from these ‘experts’, it is a case of “he who pays the piper calls the tune”?
Secondly, look for foreign investors.
The buzzword is ‘Foreign Direct Investment’ (FDI), we need to ‘attract’ foreign corporations and entice them to ‘invest’ in Ireland – the logic being that we will all benefit as these corporations make fortunes from our labour and resources, or as they ‘launder’ profits earned elsewhere through our low corporation tax system. The language used could easily lead someone to think that this ‘investment’ was some kind of charity, that we are lucky to get it, that they somehow care for the welfare of the Irish people. Have we been lulled into this ‘logic’? If so, we need to understand what the real motivating factor behind these ‘investments’ is – they can only exist if they earn profits – that is their overriding objective. To attribute any other motivation to them is to hide this truth, they are not interested in ‘creating jobs’, ‘developing technology’, ‘being our partner’ or anything like that – unless this is what they must do to make a profit from us.
The ‘Cartel’ is united against us.
We have previously referred to the ‘Cartel of parties against the people’, by this we mean Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Labour and the Greens and all their backers and fellow-travellers. ALL of the ‘Cartel’ parties agree with the above objectives. They may talk about doing things a bit different here and there, or come up with some fancy new wording, talk about “smart economy” or some other such, but essentially they all agree fully with the above.
This system and policy is a failure
Cutbacks are in place to hold back several billion each year to pay the rich, but the debt and cost of bank rescue keeps rising and is already at such proportions that we can never possibly pay it. At the same time as this programme of cuts deepens the ability of working people to pay is reducing – due to unemployment, business closures, wage cuts, short time working and so on.
We are in a downward cycle and the government has no idea how to get out of it, and they don’t even appear to be sincere in their efforts. We are promised even more severe cutbacks in all services – it is all we are sure of.
We need to develop our economy on a new basis
There situation facing the country is bleak and so we must explore other possible directions for the future. The ideas we outline could benefit from the input of some professional economists, who take the side of the people, however, for now we offer them for consideration. What we are outlining should contribute toward the building of an economic system which is self-reliant at its base and therefore not subject to the cycle of crises endemic in the world order of today.
Some of these points have been made to us via comment to articles (see 15th July) on our web site, in Facebook and some in direct discussions.
Organic food production has many benefits
Ireland is ideal as a place for organic based development, we already have the name of being a ‘green’ country (i.e. environmentally clean), we have ideal climatic conditions and naturally rich soil, we should build on that.
Organic production is labour intensive, it carries premium prices internationally, it would be healthier and it would reduce fertiliser / chemical imports. Organic production would result in a cleaner water supply immediately and give us all a healthier, additive free, diat. It would also create a healthier living environment and teach young people a practical respect for nature. The premium that is carried on ‘organic’ means that a decent wage could be paid for such labour, and we have no shortage of labour at the moment. It would transform the lives of people by giving them back the dignity of contributing to society through doing productive and useful work.
Such development would also mean the re-population of rural areas, and therefore revitalisation of communities, giving social as well as economic benefit. It would also make Ireland a more interesting place for tourism, visitors would be attracted by the clean and healthy environment and that would boost our hospitality sector. Maybe we could find a use for all those empty ‘ghost’ estates throughout the country?
One issue that may need resolution in this is the distribution and ownership of land. Organic can work on small holdings as well as large, but a key question would be that the land is utilised and not ‘set aside’ or held back for any reason.
Our fishing industry has huge potential too
Add a renewed fishing industry to this and the volume and variety of production and labour activity increases – of course, we would have to reclaim our fishing grounds ‘given away’ as part of our entry into the European Economic Community long ago.
Fishing needs planning from a sustainability point of view, to ensure that overfishing is eliminated. However, it is not the small hard pressed Irish fishermen that have plundered our seas; the whole European fleet (with higher quotas etc.) is trawling the seas and seabed off our coasts, wiping out species of fish completely and destroying the environment for their renewal.
Fishermen and their communities and scientific advisers need to come together to plan out both the protection and sustainable harvesting of our fish stocks, the development of our fleet, harbours, landing docks, services, training and other supports. We are a sea locked nation, better positioned to fish the Atlantic than most Europeans, but the fishing trade is now barely sustainable for those left in it. Revitalisation of our fishing industry should also give rise to development in the use of our rivers, lakes and seas for sports and leisure and should encourage further inbound tourism.
A new food processing sector
Organic food production and fishing would feed into the processing sector, creating all the derivative products from agriculture and fishing, packing them and marketing them. All the primary food processing and distribution should be carried out in Ireland, in the localities where it is harvested, so as to preserve the added value created within the regions and on our own shores.
Reclaim our own natural resources and energy
At the same time we could develop sustainable energy, wind, waves, rivers, solar etc., reducing import of fossil fuels and again keeping a cleaner living environment. Part of this should also mean reclaiming the Corrib Gas field from the giant Shell monopoly – this could provide the entire nation’s energy supply, it could also fuel cars, machinery, factories and generate electricity.
Of course, for any of this to happen we will need to take control and management of our own economy from the ruling elite and the European Union. For this to happen, citizens need to take up the call outlined in ‘Let us lay claim to Our Democracy’ … so that people are empowered to decide these questions themselves.
Enhancing Ireland’s standing amongst the nations
Proper development of an organic and sustainable economy would not only provide a better life for Irish people but would also place us at the forefront of this world movement and be an example to the people of other ‘dependent economies’ or neo-colonial states.
High technology used and shared.
Finally, we are a nation of skilled and qualified people, so we should employ and develop the highest level of technology to assist this economic development. These are skills that we could then export, sometimes for a price and maybe sometimes to help our fellow human beings who need such skills. Ireland is known the world over for its care for peoples who face hunger and starvation; we could provide real assistance to enable such peoples to sustain themselves.
Readers are invited to comment here or to visit us on Facebook.