Noonan reads public mood perfectly on Greek bailout
Since last January, the Greek finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, an academic expert in game theory, has been playing a game of bluff.
He and Syriza believed a default would force Europe to choose the latter of two alternatives: expel Greece from the eurozone or write off its debts and let it carry on as usual.
Corruption is one of the three root causes of the Greek problem — the others being lack of productivity and a bloated public sector.
Transparency International annually ranks Greece among the most corrupt countries in the world. Greek workers produce only $35 per hour worked compared to $55 in Central Europe. Most of its million public sector workers just put down the day. Syriza took over a state suffering from corrupt capitalism in the form of tax evasion and corrupt socialism in the form of public sectorism. And managed to make it worse.
Last January, when Syriza took over, Greece had a surplus of 3pc of GDP and a growth rate of 3pc. Both have been eroded by Syriza’s endless gaming and lack of good authority.
How can Ireland be reasonably required to pump money into a country whose Government pays nearly 40pc of its budget on social benefits?
What is the point of us bailing out a country where nearly 25pc of the Gross Domestic Product is in the black economy?
Common sense about human nature tells us the more we give Greece, the less likely it is to confront corruption and public sectorism.
What Syriza should have given Greece was a dose of tough love in the form of some home truths.
That meant telling the Greek people that no amount of money would ever be enough while the two holes of corruption and public sectorism remained at the bottom of the bucket.
So where do we go from here? Let’s start by accepting that whatever the faults of their government, the Greek people are part of the European family.
Because there is an alternative to simply letting Greece go. We could keep Greece in the EU, treat it like a bankrupt, and protect the poor and the sick in return for rooting out capitalist corruption and public sectorism.
Mind you, we would have much more moral authority asking Greece to tackle public sector productivity, pay and pensions if we had the gumption to tackle our own public sector.
Brendan Howlin plans to give 300,000 public servants a pay rise. And this although average pay in the public sector is 50% higher than in the private sector. Plus pensions and job security.
How will Howlin fund his public sector hike? By taxation or borrowing.
Either way, Dunnes and other private sector workers, who have neither good pensions nor — as Clery’s proved — job security, will have to pay for this topping up of public sector pay.
How can Howlin and the Labour Party pretend this is fair? How can Labour wonder why they are facing annihilation at the polls?
But the gullibility of some in the media about Greece pales beside the gullibility of RTE News in relation to Sinn Fein. Here is the summary of the search for the Dissappeared from the RTE website.
“Both the Commission and Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams have renewed their calls for those with information about other Disappeared to come forward.”
How did Adams manage to make himself look like the most active searcher for the bodies of those tortured and murdered by the Provisional IRA?
It’s a question that also bothers John Ware, the distinguished reporter on collusion, who in the current issue of Standpoint, describes Adams as a former adjutant general of the Provisionals, which to the disbelief of almost everyone else, he continues to deny.
Ware points out that Adams has somehow diverted the collusion story mostly onto one between the British and the Loyalists.
In fact, complicity between British intelligence and its informants “existed to a much greater extent between the state and its informants in the IRA.”
Ware points out that the head of the IRA’s “nutting squad” was a British agent. His IRA job was to identify fellow traitors to the IRA. They were then tortured, murdered, buried in bogs.
Given Adams’ past role in the Provisionals, he must have a good general idea of who might have a good general idea of where the bodies are buried.
Next time Adams piously calls for information, RTE should return his call in the same spirit as Brian Cowen during the NI peace talks, when Adams told him he would have to consult with the Army Council: “there’s a mirror in the bathroom, Gerry.”
Luckily, as we saw in other areas, when the media fails, sometimes politicians fill the gap. So I welcome the news that Jim O’Callaghan of Fianna Fail is running for the position of Lord Mayor of Dublin on Monday night.
O’Callaghan has no hope of winning, thanks to the bizzare pact between the the Labour Party and the Greens, who are all voting for the Sinn Fein candidate.
But O’Callaghan is not running to win. He’s running to highlight his fear that Sinn Fein will hijack the 1916 centenary celebrations to justify the Provo campaign in Northern Ireland.
“My fear and the fear of my party is that Sinn Fein will seek to present the actions of the Provisionals in killing Irish Protestants as being in some way consistent with the principle of Irish Republicanism as fought for in Easter 1916.”
All democrats must wish him well. Jim O’Callaghan may go down in flames on Monday, but he will light a lot of dark corners in doing so.
Not least why Labour did a dodgy deal with Sinn Fein. So at least O’Callaghan can console himself that his stand is not a forlorn hope.
The Forlorn Hope was also the honourable title of the band of courageous soldiers in Wellington’s Peninsular army, who volunteered for the suicidal mission of first storming the breach in a siege.
It reminds me that RTE and TG4 are due some closing credits for two brilliant programmes on the bicentenary of Waterloo, which fully reclaimed the Duke of Wellington as a brilliant Irish commander.
British broadcasters are currently going through a post-colonial angst which prevents them hailing their great heroes. So much so that the BBC marked the bicentenary with Andrew Roberts’s anodyne tribute to Napoleon.
But even if the British wanted to big up Wellington, nothing on British television news could have matched Sean Whelan’s superb Nationwide report which was full of fresh information and insights.
And when it came to drama documentary, in spite of all the money spent on travel, Roberts’ riff on Napoleon looked cheap compared with the richness of TG4’s Laochra Gaedhal about the Irish at Waterloo.
One quibble. Micheal O Muircheartaigh, who played Waterloo veteran Maurice O Se in old age, proved he is as good an actor as he is a GAA commentator.
But he looked far too young for the part.