The capitalist media say that there is no alternative to the thrust of the economic policies being advanced by the government, the EU and the IMF. This is completely untrue. There is an alternative — a socialist alternative.
Shut Down Anglo Irish Bank
The bailout of Anglo Irish Bank is set to cost the taxpayer between €29.3 billion and €34.3 billion according to the Government and up to €40 billion according to some economists. The bank should be closed down immediately and the losses should be taken by bondholders, private banks who lent to Anglo and wealthy depositors. The same applies to the Irish Nationwide Building Society.
Nationalise the Banks under the Democratic Control of Working People
AIB, Bank of Ireland and other banks should be nationalised. The banks should be amalgamated into one state bank with jobs guaranteed and employment provided for Anglo and INBS staff. The boards should be sacked. A new board under the democratic control of working people should be established including elected representatives from the workplace and representatives elected from society as a whole.
End the bank bailouts which could end up costing as much as €90 billion — redirect this investment to job creation and protecting social services. Bondholders and private lenders from the banking world should be given no guarantee of repayment. The bank should gear its resources and future profits towards reducing mortgages (all mortgages should be brought in line with current house valuations), defending jobs and providing cheap credit to small business and individuals.
For an Emergency Programme of Socially Useful Public Works
Under capitalism schools are unbuilt, communities are left without centres, health, sport and youth facilities and masses of homes are uninsulated at the same time as huge numbers of construction workers languish on the dole. End this contradiction by launching a socially useful programme of public works to employ construction workers at trade union rates of pay.
For a 35 Hour Week without Loss of Pay
It makes no sense to have people working 39 hours a week plus overtime at the same time that 450,000 people are on the dole. Cut the working week to 35 hours without loss in pay and share out the work among the unemployed. This would create 165,000 jobs. It costs an average of €20,000 per annum in dole payments and lost income tax revenue to keep a person unemployed for a year. Measures which take a quarter of a million people off the dole could save the taxpayer up to €5 billion and this money should be used to finance the emergency programme of socially useful public works.
For a Progressive Tax System
33,000 Irish millionaires own €133 billion wealth. The taxation system should be changed, not by bringing the lowest paid into the tax net, but by forcing this elite to pay their fair share. A hefty wealth tax should be introduced; tax loopholes for the rich abolished and corporation tax significantly increased. No to property tax on the family home and to water charges.
Abolish Sky-high Pay Rates
The Taoiseach is paid €228,000 per annum. A government minister is paid €191,000 per annum. A Supreme Court judge is paid €257,872 per annum. These sky-high wages and others should be abolished along with perks such as the ministerial car fleet. This should be done, not to “set an example” to encourage ordinary people to accept austerity, but to strike a blow at a viciously unequal capitalist society.
Reverse the Cuts
Not only are massive cutbacks an assault on the “social wage”, striking hardest at working people and the poor, they are also severely deflationary with the potential to cripple the economy as pointed out recently by the ESRI. Every €1 billion in cuts is estimated to shave €500 million off economic growth for the following year. Use the new tax revenues accruing from the introduction of a progressive tax system to stop the flow of cutbacks and reverse all the cuts of recent years.
No to Privatisation
The author of the An Bord Snip Nua report, right-wing economist Colm McCarthy, has been put in charge of a review of state assets and this is, no doubt, a prelude to proposals for privatisation on a massive scale. It makes no sense whatsoever to privatise when the private sector is responsible for the crisis in the first place. We need more nurses, teachers, doctors and social workers. Public sector employment should be increased not cut!
End the Rule of the Market
Capitalism has failed spectacularly — 450,000 on the dole, a banking disaster and €15 billion in cuts on the way. If capitalism cannot afford to provide jobs, decent living standards, decent social services and a future then the working class cannot afford capitalism. This system needs to be ended. Nationalise the banks, the building industry and all the major companies which dominate the economy under the democratic control of working people and use their profits to meet the needs of the people.
For a Socialist Plan of Production, in Ireland and Internationally
Gear the economy towards meeting the needs of ordinary people not the superprofits of the capitalist elite. Match unused resources with social need — e.g. finishing “ghost estates” to tackle massive social housing waiting lists. Instead of bailing out banks use state funding and state industry to end unemployment.
End the rule of capitalism internationally and the power of unelected financial “markets” to bully millions of people, and entire countries. For a socialist Europe instead of a capitalist European Union. Instead of the anarchy of the market with its catastrophic rollercoaster of boom and slump, plan the world economy rationally to end poverty, starvation, mass unemployment and vicious social inequality.
Mick Barry is an Irish Socialist Party councillor for Cork City Council, first elected in 2004 and re-elected in June 2009 on the first count in the Cork City North Central ward. This article was first published on the Socialist Party Web site on 19 November 2010.