Tomás Ó Flatharta

Looking at Things from the Left

Archive for the ‘Financial Crisis (September 2008 onwards)’ Category

Extend Health and Safety Authority powers on social distancing in Irish Workplaces – The Bad Example of Keeling’s Company

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Paul Murphy TD :

If you walk more than 2km from home you face a jail sentence.

Yet companies forcing workers to work shoulder to shoulder without PPE face no inspections, no enforcement, no fines.

The Health and Safety Authority must start investigating complaints of companies breaking the Covid-19 guidelines. They should start with Keelings.

The Irish Examiner Reports :

TDs have called for extended powers for the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) in order to ensure social distancing in work places.

There is currently no state agency which has the statutory authority to carry out workplace inspections to ensure that appropriate physical distancing measures to protect against the spread of Covid-19 are in place.

Confusion has arisen over who would monitor sites after Rise-People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy says he was “passed from Billy to Jack” while trying to ensure that fruit producer, Keeling’s workers in Co Wexford, who have been flown in to Ireland from other states in the EU for seasonal work, could adhere to guidelines for their own safety.

The HSA has said that currently it has no powers in overseeing the Covid-19 guidelines, despite Business Minister Heather Humphreys stating in the Dáil last week that she was “talking to her officials about it”.

Previously, Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe said the HSE would oversee such guidelines.

However, the HSE Environmental Unit has reportedly stated to Mr Murphy that it is not their role either.

Mr Murphy written to Minister Humphreys to urge the Government to reconsider the issue as a matter of urgency, as a number of worksites, including 35 “essential” public housing construction sites, have restarted work with government permission, while others expect restrictions on other construction and other workplaces will be loosened when the current run of guidelines runs out on May 5.

— Read on www.irishexaminer.com/breakingnews/ireland/call-for-extended-hsa-powers-on-social-distancing-996293.html

Some people may be surprised that a government headed by Fine Gael Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is unwilling to take action against the Keeling’s Company – an explanation can be found in this image :

Taoiseach Varadkar Campaigning With Owners of Keeling’s Fruit Picker Company in 2015

The Fine Gael Government was lobbied in February 2018 by Keeling’s Boss, the Chief Executive Caroline Keeling, who wants tax laws changed so that her family’s personal profits can be dramatically increased. Read the rest of this entry »

An Evil King Rules an Afflicted Land: Coronavirus and the Depression in America – New Politicsm

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American Author and Activist Dan La Botz writes a grim assessment of the CoronaVirus Epidemic in America, and the related economic depression.

We in America live in what resembles some medieval fairy tale. An evil and maniacal king rules the plague stricken land. The wicked lords in the corrupt parliament rob the public coffers to enrich their cronies. The tribunes of the people, mostly venal and foolish, are alternately deceived or suborned by the King and the lords. Meanwhile many people are sick and many dying. The bodies pile up. The soothsayers blame it on the foreigners and plan pogroms. The mills have stopped; the inns and taverns have closed. Peasants rebel here and there but the plague prevents a general rebellion. Word has it the situation is the same in neighboring kingdoms all around.

That’s a fairy tale of course. What’s the reality? The United States now has nearly one million coronavirus cases and 50,000 deaths, more of both than any country in the world. We have an unemployment rate of 20 percent, the highest since the Great Depression of the 1930s. The two together represent what is perhaps the greatest crisis in American history, an absolutely unprecedented event: a catastrophe. And it may only have just begun.

As the coronavirus has swept across the country bringing illness to hundreds of thousands and killing tens of thousands, Americans have been shocked by the failure of government, business, and the health system. As the number of sick mounted, there were not enough hospitals, not enough hospital beds, not enough ICUs, not enough ventilators. Hospital personnel have lacked gowns, masks, and respirators. As hospital workers fall sick or die there are not enough health workers to replace them. Some seven thousand elderly died in private nursing homes. The disease is now rampant in prisons. It is rife in meat packing plants, with 725 cases at the Smithfield plant in South Dakota. Twenty-six U.S. Navy ships have crews with coronavirus, including 850 sick on the huge 5,000-crewmember U.S.S. Roosevelt. Everywhere essential workers—bus drivers, garbage collectors, grocery cashiers, delivery workers—became sick and many have died, and neither business nor the governments that regulate these companies acted quickly to save them.
— Read on newpol.org/an-evil-king-rules-an-afflicted-land-coronavirus-and-the-depression-in-america/

The most depressing part of this analysis comes at the end, where the activities and analysis of the largest organisation on the American Activist Left, the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), is described. Read the rest of this entry »

Private hospital deal will cost the Irish State €115 million per month – CoronaVirus: Confidential deal to take over private hospitals “expected to cost State €115m per month” – Irish Times Report

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It looks like the Irish Government is paying far more money to private hospitals compared to the British Government.

Irish Government Uses CoronaVirus Crisis to Pay Private Hospitals

Many of these hospitals are owned by Denis O’Brien & Larry Goodman who made their fortunes from sweetheart deals. In fact, some of these deals have ended up the subject of costly tribunals. But now we are told to just take them at their word that this is a not-for-profit deal? If it is, why does it seem to be so much more expensive than the deal struck by the NHS with private hospitals in the UK?

The government should publish today the full details of this deal, including a break down of the costs. The private hospitals should open their books, so we can see the real costs, rather than just pay them whatever they say.

Rather than lining the pockets of Denis O’Brien & Larry Goodman, what we really need is to bring these private hospitals permanently into the public system, to build a unified, single-tier National Health Service.

Open the books. – Source LetUsRise.ie

Paul Murphy TD has raised this matter in Dáil Éireann, and has followed up with a letter addressed to Acting Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe.

I wrote to the Minister of Finance on Monday requesting more information about the deal with the private hospitals. I still haven’t heard back. So far at least €90 million has been handed over. We need a break down of those costs published.

Read the rest of this entry »

Can Words Force Covid-19 Nursing Home Action? Right To Die With Dignity – Right To Work With Dignity

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The direct testimony below broadcasts the horrible reality of nursing homes. The political establishment sugar-coats the phenomenon. This helps the owners to financially, socially, and politically benefit from a sick system.
I saw my mother waste away for three years in a nursing home, and chose to see the reality. It is an an approach that focuses us on the need to fight for better alternatives for us all in the very near future.

We need a system where we all have the right to die with dignity. Workers in these institutions have a right to live with dignity. These two principles go hand in hand.

The source is the Facebook Page of Honor Heffernan – a nursing home worker courageously offers direct testimony – we must support and encourage others to do likewise – it is the only effective way to confront and solve this crisis. In Ireland “Right to Die With Dignity” Legislation is very long overdue – it is now an overdue emergency. – John Meehan

I got a call from the owner of a nursing home this week desperate and crying. All of her permanent staff were sick or in isolation and the agencies had no nurses available.

I arrived on Friday morning- supposed to be the 2nd nurse with 5 HCAs to support 24 residents. Instead what transpired was I was the only nurse with 3 HCAs as the other agency staff failed to show.

I had never been in this home before, so I didnt know the residents or how to navigate around the home.

The author continues :

Read the rest of this entry »

Faced with the Covid-19 pandemic, our lives are more worth than their profits – Fourth International European Declaration

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The workers’ movement, and all progressive forces, have a duty to resist the Covid-19 Assault, and put forward practical proposals which will work at local, national, and international levels. The full text of a Fourth International Declaration is here : http://www.internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article6517 Key extracts are below.

International Viewpoint

Emergency measures

The organizations and activists of the Fourth International in Europe, together with their respective organizations, are in favour of a programme of emergency measures:

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the injection of sufficient means for the mass availability of screening kits, the multiplication of resuscitation beds and respirators. Generalization to the entire population of suitable protective masks and biologic tests is the condition for confinement lifting. Immediate support for democratically controlled production of these means and for non-commercial research for medicines and vaccines against Covid-19.

Read the rest of this entry »

“Never Waste A Good Crisis” – Big Economic Recession Coming Our Way – Irish Ruling Class Cuts “Meals on Wheels” – EU Leaders Pour Petrol ⛽️ on Flames 🔥

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An Irish Warning : Sam Nolan reports his HSE “meals on wheels” service has been suspended. Friends and Comrades are rallying, Sam will be supported. Des Derwin reacts, very perceptively :

“I’m speechless. Just as an expanded service is needed. Have y’all noticed how the (Fine Gael!) state is building up its repressive apparatus for the crisis. Templemore early graduation trainees given crash course in public order (read riot control). New standing public order unit. (WTF?!) Scores of hired in Garda cars to ‘help the vulnerable’. Maybe the HSE is transferring the meals on wheels service to An Garda Siochana.”

Former SYRIZA Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis Analyses the European Union Response :

Those of us who know how the Eurogroup works were not holding much hope yesterday. Nevertheless, Europe’s finance ministers managed to do even less than what we feared: They failed to use the fiscal compact’s proviso for loosening up fiscal policy across the euro area. They continued with the tragic error of treating a crisis of insolvency as a crisis of liquidity. And they failed to recognise that some countries, in particular those savaged by the never-ending euro crisis, need a great deal more support than others.
In short, the Eurogroup’s bazooka is no more than a pathetic waterpistol. It is time that Europeans pushed for something better than this. It is time that we organise at a transnational, paneuropean level to replace this instrument of austerity-driven recession, the Eurogroup, with an institution that can work for a majority of Europeans everywhere.

APPENDIX: The Eurogroup’s telling reference to “automatic stabilisers”
The Eurogroup communique referred to the “full use of automatic stabilisers”. What did they mean?
Here is an example of an ‘automatic stabiliser’: When people lose their job, they go on unemployment benefit. This means a transfer of money from the better off to the worse off. As the worse off, who are now unemployed, save nothing and, therefore, more of the money of the better off enters the markets. That’s what economists refer to as an ‘automatic stabiliser’ (‘automatic’ because no government decision was needed to activate it – the loss of jobs does it automatically | and ‘stabiliser’ because the higher portion of spending relative to savings boosts GDP ).
Can you see dear reader what the Eurogroup are really saying when confessing to relying to the ‘automatic stabilisers’ in the absence of concerted fiscal expansion? They are saying: Don’t worry folks. While it is true we, the finance ministers, are doing almost nothing to avert the disaster, when the disaster comes your job losses and poverty will trigger some automatic mechanism that will break the economy’s fall. A little like consoling the victims of the plague with their thought that their death will, through shrinking the labour supply, boost future wages…

Some Proposals for Resistance :

DiEM25’s answer to: What should they have done?
At the very least, the Eurogroup should have recommended to the European Council that the European Investment Bank is given the green light to issue EIB bonds worth €600 billion with the stipulation that, as part of its ongoing and recently enhanced quantitative easing program, the European Central Bank will support the value of these bonds in the bond markets. That €600 billion should be spent directly to support national health services and also be invested in sectors of the economy badly hit by the lockdown – while also nudging our economy toward greener forms of transport, energy generation etc. Additionally, the fiscal compact should be immediately side-lined and governments should effect a tax haircut for small and medium sized firms, households etc.
The above would probably be enough not to avert but to contain the recession to something like between -1% and -2% of GDP. To avert it completely, the Eurogroup should have decided to mimic Hong Kong and have the European Central Bank mint an emergency fund from which every European household is given between €1000 and €2000.

Coronavirus In Ireland: A Doctor’s Grim Warning – 277 Intensive Care Beds in Ireland – 60,000 Will Be Needed – Stay Home!

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A Very Scary Message to All in Ireland, Passed On by Ed Moloney.

I received this message in an email from a friend in Dublin, earlier today. It came originally from a doctor practicing in Ireland who wishes it to …

Coronavirus In Ireland: A Doctor’s Grim Warning


Scary Numbers from a Doctor Working in Ireland

The Government has said between 25% and 75% of the population will get the virus. If 25% of the Irish population get it, which based on the numbers above is a very low estimate, that’s 1.2 million people.
5% needing intensive care means 60,000 people will need intensive care beds to stay alive.
We currently have 277 intensive care beds in Ireland.
I’m going to say that again:
At least 60,000 Irish people will need an ICU bed to stay alive.
We only have 277 ICU beds in Ireland.

Let’s place the Irish Crisis in an International Political Context; Daniel Tanuro writes :

6. The major danger of the epidemic is the possible saturation of hospital systems. This would inevitably lead to a worsening of the price paid by the poorest and the weakest, in particular among the elderly, as well as a further shift of care tasks into the domestic sphere, that is to say generally onto women. The saturation threshold obviously depends on the countries, the health systems and the austerity policies that have been imposed there. It will be reached all the more quickly insofar as the governments are running behind the epidemic instead of preventing it. The fight against the epidemic therefore requires a break with austerity policies, a redistribution of wealth, refinancing and de-liberalization of the health sector, the suppression of patents in the medical field, North-South justice and a clear priority given to social needs. This implies in particular: banning dismissals of infected workers, the maintenance of wages in the event of partial unemployment, stopping checks, “activation” and sanctions against social security recipients, etc. It is mainly on these questions that we must intervene to counter irrational responses and their potential for racist-authoritarian slippage.

7. There are many commonalities between the Covid-19 crisis and the climate crisis. In both cases, the capitalist system’s logic of accumulation for profit makes it incapable of preventing a danger of which it is nevertheless aware. In both cases, governments oscillate between denial and the inadequacy of policies designed primarily according to the needs of capital, not the needs of populations. In both cases, the poorest, racialized and weakest, especially in the countries of the global south, are in sights, while the rich say that they will always get by. In both cases, governments are using the threat to advance toward a strong state while far-right forces are trying to take advantage of fear to out forward foul Malthusian and racist responses. In both cases, finally, the social law of capitalist value comes into direct contradiction with laws of nature with exponential dynamics (the multiplication of viral infections in one case, warming and its positive feedbacks in the other).

http://www.internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article6452

Daniel Tanuro, a certified agriculturalist and eco-socialist environmentalist, writes for “La gauche”, (the monthly of the LCR-SAP, Belgian section of the Fourth International).

Daniel Tanuro is the author of The Impossibility of Green Capitallism, (Resistance Books, Merlin and IIRE) and Le moment Trump (Demopolis, 2018).

CoronaVirus 2020 – Great Hunger (Famine) 1840’s – Irish Connections, Evils of Laissez-Faire Capitalism

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Joe Harrington Compares the CoronaVirus Crisis of 2020 with the Great Hunger (Famine) of Ireland in the 1840’s. Items needed by human beings for survival suddenly were unavailable, prices rocketed, and only the mega-rich could afford them. The Great Hunger killed millions of starving Irish people, millions of others emigrated. There is a connection – Laissez-Faire Capitalism. Resistance is Necessary.

When the potato failed during the mid to late 1840s there were other foodstuffs available. These were slightly out of reach of the hundreds of thousands of starving people but any chance of securing them went when the price of them increased by up to a factor of six. Only the extremely rich could afford the prices and hundreds of thousands died. We are all appalled today when we read of this but look at what is happening today with the less important sanitiser! The connection? Laissez-faire Capitalism – described as “an economic system in which transactions between private parties are absent of any form of government intervention such as regulation, privileges, imperialism, tariffs and subsidies”. Any regulations that exist have failed utterly to stop banks, vulture funds and financiers, billionaire developers and their cronies destroying lives, livelihoods, the health service and the homeless.

It is worth pointing out this, but it is also important to build community co-operation to beat the virus. We cannot depend on the 1% or their political representatives who have their eye and their interests elsewhere. If ordinary people are to build the movements that are needed to confront the rule of the super-rich we need to overcome the divisions the capitalist political and economic system has caused within our ranks. Our state does not promote co-operation as the way forward for society. Instead it promotes a dog-eat-dog culture and an everyone for themselves attitude. Even so, the thousands of people who are involved on a volunteer in their communities shown that co-operation is the default position of the human being.

This Virus problem provides with an opportunity to promote co-operation to a new level. Vicky Phelan spoke about this on the Clare Byrne Show the other night. While keeping them under pressure to put people before profit in dealing with this threat let us also go beyond the response of the state. We need to take community-based initiatives to keep the virus away from those in most danger from it. If we co-operate and look out each other in this crisis we will better realise the strengths we have when dealing with the capitalists attacks now and down the road.

Apart from this we need to keep in mind two conflicting ideas. We need to act as if we have the virus and don’t want to pass it on and at the same time we need to act as if we haven’t the virus and don’t want to get it. Not easy to do.

Fumbling in the Greasy Till – Paul Murphy TD Campaigns Against CoronaVirus Price Gouging

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CoronaVirus Price Gouging


We need to speak out about the profiteering taking place.

Just like September 1913 – the Worst Elements of the Irish Middle Class “fumbled in the greasy till” – and “added prayer to shivering prayer” – determined to wage war on the poor. The workers were on strike, led by the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union. The employers were led by William Martin Murphy, owner of the Irish Independent Newspaper, Spiritual Godfather of today’s Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil Parties.

Paul Murphy Declares :

I’m organising a press conference tomorrow to highlight the huge number of examples people have sent me. This is a chance to show the real impact this greed is having, and to demand price controls are implemented. The government must take action to ensure those who need masks and hand gel most get it first.

We need more people willing to speak up on this, and tell their story. Get in touch to share your story, and help end this rip off

https://www.facebook.com/paulmurphytd/


‘September 1913 is a devastating piece of satire in which Yeats takes the well-off Catholics to task for not only their meanness and materialism but also for the shallow nature of their religious devotion. The image of the shopkeeper fumbling in the ‘greasy till’ captures the greed while the image of them adding ‘prayer to shivering prayer’ sums up their terrified devotion to the Catholic Church who were enormously influential at the time.

Yeats declares that through their greed the middle classes have made Ireland a materialistic and un-Romantic place: ‘Romantic Ireland’s dead and gone.’ By doing so they have betrayed the legacy of past heroes. The middle classes are incapable of understanding the heroes’ courage and self-sacrifice.

The repetition emphasises Yeats’ contempt for the state of contemporary Irish society. Also like many Irish political ballads it personifies Ireland as a female figure

https://prezi.com/qly2zy81pfqx/september-1913/

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Coronavirus has sparked a perfect storm of nationalism and financial speculation – Yanis Varoufakis, Former SYRIZA Finance Minister in Greece – THE GUARDIAN

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Here is a fresh warning about the toxic combination of two different phenomenons – the CoVid-19 Health Crisis and a Financial Money Markets Storm, similar to the 2008 Crash.

The author is Yanis Varoufakis, the Greek Finance Minister sacked from a SYRIZA Government before it surrendered to the Austerians.

See also https://tomasoflatharta.wordpress.com/2020/03/06/coronavirus-is-not-responsible-for-the-fall-of-stock-prices-international-viewpoint-online-socialist-magazine/.

When the air is replete with inflammable materials, any given spark can cause a financial explosion, at any time.

Éric Toussaint of CADTM examines a worldwide stock market collapse.

Eric Toussaint is a historian and political scientist who completed his Ph.D. at the universities of Paris VIII and Liège, is the international spokesperson of the CADTM (Committee for the Abolition of Illegitimate Debt) , and sits on the Scientific Council of ATTAC France. 
He is the author of Debt System (2019), Bankocracy (2015); Glance in the Rear View Mirror. Neoliberal Ideology From its Origins to the Present, Haymarket books, Chicago; “Debt, the IMF, and the World Bank, Sixty Questions, Sixty Answers”, Monthly Review Press, New York, 2010. He has published extensively in this field. He is a member of the Fourth International leadership.

Yanis Varoufakis, Former SYRIZA Finance Minister in Greece

Nationalism and speculation have seldom had a better opportunity to combine forces as the one riding today on the coattails of Covid-19, known as the coronavirus. When Covid-19 leapfrogged from China to Italy, even ardent Europeanists normally appreciative of open borders joined the deafening calls to end freedom of movement across Europe’s national borders – a longstanding demand of nationalists. Meanwhile, the money men speculating on government debt are performing a classic flight from Italian to German government bonds, seeking the financial safety that only the continent’s hegemon can offer during any crisis. As if in a bid to remind us of the great contradiction of our times, Covid-19 is illuminating gloriously the freedom of money to transcend a borderless financial universe while humans remain as fenced in as ever.

Coronavirus has sparked a perfect storm of nationalism and financial speculation – THE GUARDIAN

https://www.yanisvaroufakis.eu/2020/03/09/coronavirus-has-sparked-a-perfect-storm-of-nationalism-and-financial-speculation-the-guardian/
— Read on www.yanisvaroufakis.eu/2020/03/09/coronavirus-has-sparked-a-perfect-storm-of-nationalism-and-financial-speculation-the-guardian/