You can see the panic on Barbara Nolan’s face as Vincent insists on a sensible reply to a sensible question instead of being fobbed of with standard-issue econowaffle. Can we move on?, pleads the European Commission’s head in Ireland.
Well, no Barbara. We can’t move on. That’s the problem with the whole country. We’re carrying such a burden of debt that we can do nothing because we’re expected to prop up the entire European banking structure on our own.
While I’m delighted that an Irish person such as Barbara did well and got a highly-paid job in Europe, Vincent was quite right in telling her to shove it when she tried to steamroll him. That’s the problem with admin boodies. They parrot whatever line they’ve been programmed to follow, and Barbara was no exception.
Listen to the exchange here, which I paraphrase. Vincent Browne asks a perfectly reasonable question: Since we had nothing to do with losing the money, why are we bailing out unsecured investors in banks that will never do business again?
I already answered that, replies Masuch.
No you didn’t. Why are we paying money into a defunct bank?
After a bit of fiddling about, with Klaus looking in equal parts baffled and infuriated at being challenged, Barbara takes over. He has nothing more to add.
In our language that translates into Fuck off. You will pay. You will save the hedge funds who gambled on the Irish pyramid schemes, and you will take the pain whether you like it or not. You are the small people and you must suffer because if you do not, the big people will feel pain, and this is not acceptable.
If you wanted a plain statement of the ECB’s attitude to us, you couldn’t have found a clearer one than revealed in the attitude of Klaus Masuch. He’s obviously horrified that the local bogtrotters have the temerity to question him, but equally bereft of a logical answer to a straight question.
Why? Because ultimately, Masuch is just a messenger like Barbara Nolan. None of this comes from those officials who tour the world staying in top-class hotels and laying down the law to governments on behalf of their masters back in Head Office. These decisions are made at prime ministerial level, US presidential level and above.
Above? You ask who’s above the US president? Well, for a start, I’d suggest the toilet cleaners in Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan. After that, you can make a random list of a thousand 22-year-old uneducated barrow-boys in London’s Square Mile, all on at least a million a year.
Let me put it a different way, and maybe this point of view has not been emphasised enough. We hear a great amount of talk about The Markets, as if the markets were some sort of deity, when in fact, these cocaine-fuelled idiots are The Markets. These barrow boys who have never read a book in their lives, have no insight into anything except work and drugs, dictate the ebb and flow of commerce across the globe, and yet, ironically, this fact might well be our salvation.
It has been said many times that the markets have no memory. I heard somebody on the radio this morning using the example of airlines in the United States who go bust, burn all their investors and come back to the market a couple of years later looking for new money to buy aircraft. They get their money, because the traders don’t care what happened yesterday. All they want to know is whether today’s deal has a good chance of paying off, but our politicians can’t grasp this concept.
Here’s a thought that might annoy you, but maybe it has a little bit of truth in it as well. Am I being fanciful in speculating that the reason is our guilt-ridden Catholic history? I don’t think so. As a society, we believe in retribution, in guilt, in sin and in penance, or at least, we used to and it will take us a while before we shake off the behaviours associated with those beliefs. Generation after Irish generation was hammered into submission by the Church, and although the late Brian Lenihan was a member of the pampered elite, it’s my belief that he was infected with this pietistic nonsense as much as the poorest labourer.
He might not have realised that these forces were at work, any more than Cowen was, if he happened to be sober in September 2008, but the truth is that both of those guys were members of the last generation to internalise the Catholic doctrine of guilt.
Why is Iceland back in the market after defaulting? Why is Iceland negotiating reasonable rates of interest for money?
Simple. These people never handed over their analytical powers to a man in a frock, unlike us. They know bullshit when they see it.
Why don’t we learn the lesson of Iceland and tell people like Klaus Masuch to get stuffed? If he was so rattled by a simple question from a journalist, you’d have to suspect that he has no more belief in what he’s saying than the rest of us do, and there’s the nub of the issue. Nobody believes any of this nonsense.
And yet Ireland, the unthinking, uncritical best boy in the class, still plans to pay over €70 billion in order to ensure that hedge funds don’t suffer for consorting with criminals.
Poor old Barbara doesn’t seem to understand that a question is simply a question, and makes a complete eejit of herself by saying to Vincent That’s your view.
Is this the calibre of person who gets a job in Brussels? It’s probably the moment when the European Commission case falls to pieces. Barbara might as well have said, Come on Ireland. Unless you want to spend the rest of your lives listening to idiots like me, it’s time to start lighting the Molotov cocktails
Any con-man I ever met stung me, but I never asked the government to pick up the bill, and why should the banks’ bondholders be any different? One of the Troika members agrees with us. The IMF thinks that people who take a gamble should be prepared to lose, on the very sound logic that this is the very basis of capitalism, and therefore, ironically, it’s the people we thought were our friends who argue against us: the European Union and the United States in the form of Timothy Geithner, US treasury secretary.
Meanwhile, the Old Enemy, in the form of UK chancellor George Osbourne, argued in our favour but was shouted down. Maybe it’s time to re-evaluate the precise nature of our allies and our enemies, and adjust our policies accordingly on the basis of Realpolitik as opposed to emotion. For once in our lives, maybe we should plan for what will benefit us.
Ya pays yer money and ya takes yer chances. That’s the essence of capitalism and they all understand it.
It’s about time the Irish government understood it too.