Wednesday 26 October 2016

Global corporatism is preying on the wealth of nations

Published 18/08/2015 | 02:30

Greek premier Alexis Tsipras has much to ponder
Greek premier Alexis Tsipras has much to ponder

What is being presented as an €86bn "rescue package" for Greece in the form of a bailout is actually a wholesale transfer of public assets into private hands, with Greek airports, sea ports, public utilities and land up for sale to the higher bidder.

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Even stretches of the Corfu beachfront have already been snapped up by a US equity firm. Water services in Athens and Thessaloniki have to be sold off, despite the fact that the international trend is towards returning privatised water services to public ownership. More than 180 cities and communities in 35 countries, including Berlin, Stuttgart and Hamburg in Germany, have taken back control of their water services from private operators in the past 15 years.

The private corporations, such as the Russian oligarchs in 1990s after the collapse of the USSR, can look forward to making a killing in the great Greek sell-off. Meanwhile, the outlook for ordinary people is grim - Oxfam reports that more than million people in Greece, or 17.5pc of the population, live in households with no income. Newborn babies are being abandoned in hospitals because mothers cannot pay the €600 fee for childbirth.

Yet online commentary is awash with people who naively parrot the mainstream propaganda about "lazy Greeks", demonising and scapegoating the Greek people and their government. This is the smokescreen behind which the real villains of the piece - the international financiers who are indiscriminately plundering and looting our economies - continue to operate with impunity.

The last vestiges of the Glass-Steagall Act (1933), which separated domestic banking from speculative investment banking, were repealed in 1999 by Bill Clinton. Nine years later, the entire economies of the US and Europe were bankrupt.

Without strict regulatory controls, global corporatism becomes a predatory monster, devouring the hard-earned wealth of nations and citizens. No progress can be made until this fundamental flaw in our economic system is addressed.

Maeve Halpin

Ranelagh, Dublin 6


How to house the homeless

Heartbreaking events dominate our news - homelessness for families in Irish cities, likewise homelessness for thousands of refugees fleeing war and violence in their own countries, with many dying on their journeys. May I suggest a way which we Irish people could help?

Some years ago, Sister Stanislaus Kennedy, founder of Focus Ireland, persuaded her fellow religious to hand over redundant convents in Dublin which were then adapted into apartments for homeless families.

Today, many religious congregations have problems with ageing members in large, unsuitable buildings; these are priests, nuns and brothers who served Irish people well and are now in need of full-time care themselves. With goodwill and planning, these large buildings could be adapted into apartments for homeless families. A similar exercise could be done in Irish towns to house refugees.

Jesus told us He will judge us insofar as we help Him as He identifies with the poor and suffering.

"I was hungry and you gave me food. I was naked and you clothed me." (Matthew 25 v 31-45) He could well add another verse: "I was homeless and you gave me a home."

(Fr) Con McGillicuddy

Raheny, Dublin 5


He's no criminal mastermind

A guy who allegedly attempted a robbery with a picture of a firearm is coming in for a lot of stick.

I don't see what the problem is - if I was trying to hold up a bank, I'd definitely draw my gun too.

Killian Foley-Walsh



Replace taxis with London cabs

I see the Taxi Regulator's office is once again considering introducing new vehicle regulations or standards to make it safer for drivers by installing a safety screen and in-car camera systems. It is also considering regulations that will require all taxi drivers to replace the existing large taxi sign with a smaller one to reduce drag, which will in turn make the taxi more fuel-efficient and more environmentally friendly.

In recent years it has also introduced a grant for any taxi driver who buys a wheelchair-accessible vehicle, as there is a shortage of such vehicles.

Apart from the costs to drivers, which I'm sure are considerable, it seems stupid that all the current taxis in Ireland should once again be refitted to conform to ever-changing regulations considering that there is a vehicle available with all these features fitted as standard - the London cab.

All the Government has to do is drop the VRT on all such imported vehicles, redirect the grant to the purchase of a new vehicle and the taxi industry would be transformed over night. Ireland would finally have taxis fit for purpose with all the safety and accessibility features included.

Eugene McGuinness

Bishop Birch Place, Kilkenny


Immigration is damaging

Zoe Lawlor's humanitarian instincts in her letter (August 12) do her credit, but demonstrate a marked absence of rational thought.

Europe's migration issue is quite simple.

We have X amount of people in Europe (its native inhabitants), some of them living in poverty with acute needs of their own (I'm thinking here of the homeless, the old and sick at the mercy of our dysfunctional and under-funded health service, children in overcrowded classrooms and the unemployed) and limited resources available for them.

Add to this number millions more penniless people from outside Europe, and at the very least we are going to make the poor even poorer while simultaneously fuelling native anger and resentment.

Not very fair or democratic for Europe's natives, is it?

Tax the rich, you say, as a solution. Well, the rich would simply take their jobs and investments off to some sensible country, leaving us looking rather like the impoverished countries the migrants are fleeing from, complete no doubt with their ethnic and religious tensions.

The cultural attitudes of many of the migrants, such as their dislike for basic attributes of European culture like freedom of expression and the equal status of women, is another cause for concern, but ignored by Zoe Lawlor and other migrant advocates. A bit of logic is badly needed on this issue, and mass immigration to Europe will not solve the world's problems. It will, however, make our own quite pressing ones immeasurably worse.

Thomas Ryan

Thurles, Co Tipperary

Irish Independent

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