Saturday, November 27, 2010

Tearin' o' the Green

I've been reading comment boards following stories about the Irish austerity plan. The ignorance displayed by conservative commenters is uniformly appalling. To a person, they assume that the most free market economy in Europe is a socialist dystopia bankrupted by union greed and an idle citizenry dependent on massive entitlement programs.

Possibly in a parallel universe, but here on earth the actual facts speak an inconvenient truth. The crisis in Ireland is the same as the crisis here: A failure of free market capitalism specifically brought on by a real estate bubble.

Not only is Ireland not socialist, neither is any country in western Europe. England, Italy, Spain, and the Scandinavian countries have socialized medicine, but that's because they each concluded long ago that the free market could not efficiently and equitably deliver health care access to an entire population, something that each country decided was a moral right. So, they removed the free market from the equation. That's a long way from a socialized economy.

All other nations in Europe provide health care via insurance. This system is heavily regulated because these countries very sensibly don't trust the free market to accomplish much for population health, but it's not socialized medicine.

Norway has nationalized its petroleum reserves, which, contrary to what the teabaggers might think, is not remotely socialistic. It simply means that the state (a.k.a., the people of Norway) retains ownership of the country's most valuable natural resource. Private companies extract and commoditize the oil, then split the profits with Norway. Norway gets a platinum-plated health care plan and financial security for its aging population out of the deal. If that's socialism, smite me with it.

One commenter confidently wrote that Irish crisis was a result of -- I kid you not -- Keynesian economics, a phrase he no doubt picked up from Glen Beck's whiteboard. As Ireland often ran surpluses before unregulated bank speculation defecated on people's lives and as the government is now desperately trying to balance the budget on the backs of the innocent, it's literally impossible to see where Keynes fits in.

Well, as he often does, the great Christy Moore knows the right of it. This one goes out to Pat, Ann, Ian, Mina, Declan, Mary, and all of my Irish friends:


RealityZone said...

It is not the measure of wealth that enhances the world.
It is the measure of debt that burdens the world.
Who ever controls the debt, controls the individual, or the country that was swallowed up by greed and control.
Austerity will come to America.
Who or what will the far right blame then.
They are the ones that have brought this Corporate Capitalist poison upon themselves.
They have poisoned the goose that laid their golden egg.
Now it should be obvious that Corporate Capitalism is a failure.

Trickle down economics has drowned the middle class into extinction.

It is now time for a democratic socialist movement in America before we are all extinct.

TAO said...

Just a bunch of idiots with a talking point trying to find a reality to fit their talking point to...

K. said...

RZ, that's exactly why I tell flat taxers that they're screwing themselves: They get a few extra bucks now in exchange for transferring the burden of the debt onto themselves.

TAO, you're right, of course, and it shouldn't have surprised me. What caught me off guard was the unanimity. One guy allowed as to how, okay, maybe Ireland isn't socialist, but that I probably hadn't heard of creeping socialism. Creeping socialism! That's a John Birch Society paranoid delusion that was an ancient hoax when Peter's cock crowed.

Foxessa said...

It is also tiresome to hear endlessly repeated that Greece, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, are bad teenagers to whom tough love must be administered.

Partiucularly when those in those nations who benefited by those tax evasions (Greece) and the building / real estate bubbles aren't the ones to whom the tough love gets administered.

We lurves those nations when we can take advantage by outsourcing our own jobs to cheaper workers who are literate and have a work ethic. Yet now they are irresponsible adolescents who need to buck up. Feh.

Love, C.

K. said...

Especially since it's the banks and financiers who need disciplining. I'd recommend some of the classified ads in our local alternative weekly, but those guys would enjoy every second of it.