independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

Look where EU got us: Incanomics, or the sacrifice of our young to prosper

THE key question always is: do you walk the walk? David McWilliams' excellent column on Wednesday reveals where we are walking: on the airport concourses to cross-channel departure gates, with 10 million people flying annually between Ireland and Britain. The number of travellers a year from Germany? Just 400,000: 4pc.

Four decades after we joined the EU, and two years after the triumphant royal visit here, it's time we asked challenging questions about our future, based on fact, rather than the fantasy emanating from the Department of Foreign Affairs, perhaps the most professionally Anglophobic sector of government. For despite 30 years of linking the punt to the Deutschmark, and then using what is effectively a German currency, our primary trading partner remains what it was at the time of Independence: Britain.

So why are we using a Berlin-based currency to trade with a neighbour that has been our main market and supplier throughout recorded history? Why, nationalist ideology, of course, the belief that we can reshape realities according to some government design. This political rejection of geographical, cultural and economic facts caused us to join the euro, so proving – Erin go Brath! – that we were not British.

But as we now know, membership of what is in effect a German currency has bankrupted much of the periphery of the EU. Ruin now reaches into the Rhenish heart of the EU, as Britain becomes Germany's main EU trading partner, displacing France, which, according to its Labour minister – is actually bankrupt.

Meanwhile, unrestricted mass migration across national boundaries – a purely ideological concept that has never been tried before in history – has made all economic and infrastructural planning in the recipient lands virtually impossible. I don't blame individual immigrants for mass unemployment here, but uncontrolled mass immigration is certainly a factor. What would our unemployment figures be like if we hadn't accepted hundreds of thousands of immigrants? You know this is a fair question: you also know we're not allowed to ask it, for fear of being called "racist".

Well, look where euro membership has got us. The Incas sacrificed their living young to prosper. Modern Ireland's version of Incanomics is to saddle our unborn young with crushing debts in order to pay off the German banks, which invested in Ireland's insane property bubble. And that was inflated by interest rates that suited German needs, not ours; in other words, we were done twice-over, and largely because we preferred ideological nationalism to commercial realism. In this Incanomic lunatic asylum, little wonder that Europe's greatest beef producer should end up exporting recycled Polish cavalry: Shergarburgers.

Now, if the joblessness that resulted from our euro membership was eased by emigration to Germany, that might achieve a moral balance – but of course, that hasn't happened. Our emigrants go where they've always gone: to Britain and its former colonies: the US, Canada, Australia. That's the reality: and two of those countries, Britain – where probably about a million Irish people now live – and the US are our main global trading partners.

So why do we trade with them in the currency of another country, the new Grossdeutschland, thereby incurring needless exchange costs not merely with them, but also with the adjacent "national territory", the North? Perhaps for the same reason that headline writers exult in growths of exports into peripheral markets – Germany up 40pc! India 30! – and ignore the ancient and far larger reality, expressed in some other figures from David's article: annual exports to Britain, €29.3bn, imports €26.8bn; total, a billion a week.

For decades it was impossible to urge for Anglo-Irish links that recognised the realities of our shared relationship, without being abused as a west Brit toady. Yet simultaneously, RTE sports would report live from English soccer grounds, not the German Bundesliga. Indeed, where we differ, we are the same: within the EU, only Ireland – with Gaelic and hurling – and Britain – cricket and rugby – have uniquely enjoyed, purely native, mass-spectator sports. The Irish and the British consume tea and cream-crackers and Marmite and cheese 'n' onion crisps and fish and chips and sweet pickles and pan-fried sausages and rashers. Our towns at midnight are alike – populated by gallant young swains bottling one another, while on the ground nearby, some winsomely burly doxies, with their knickers around their ears and heels in the air, are trying to have a pee.

I've absolutely no idea of the cost of getting out of the euro, or whether it's even possible, but at least we now know that the single currency has been the most idiotic exercise in ideological hubris since Zimbabwe's nuclear aircraft-carrier programme. Britain will never enter euroland, and might even leave the EU. What shall we do? Well, first get used to talking about it: we've endured a silent submission to coercive Euromythology for far too long. The timid myrmidons of our political classes must finally start asking the difficult questions about our future.

Irish Independent

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