Monthly Archives For October 2012

Income Distribution Data Shows What Is Behind the Central Bank’s Agenda

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In the post What’s Behind the Central Bank’s Destructive Agenda to Drive Down Wages? commenter Laura Farrell made a point on incomes and wage competitiveness which I think is worth addressing.

Laura said:

“What neither the Central Bank nor this article accounts for is the inequality in Irish wages. One of the reasons that our “average” looks so high is because of the distortion caused by a small number of very high earners, particularly in public sector funded roles. Lower end roles, even in skilled industries, have been falling lower for years while wages at the upper end take off.”

It’s quite common to get comments like this, which make statements about high and low earners without making any reference to data that is easy enough to access and link to. For example, you could look at the CSO Statistical Yearbook 2011 Earnings which show Irish earnings for last year, or you could look at how earnings in Ireland for several sectors compare to other EU countries.

However, rather than wading through that you could read this article by Dr Micheál Collins of the Nevin Economic Research Institute (NERI) which provides a great deal of clarity on the issue of income distribution using the CSO data. It’s so clear in fact that I thought it worth including in full here:

“Each year, since 2004, the Central Statistics Office (CSO) has collected detailed information on the income and living conditions of a representative sample of households across the Republic of Ireland. In general, the survey covers more than 5,000 households and 12,000 individuals. The information provided by this survey is useful for understanding the spread of income across households and it highlights the current and persisting gaps in the distribution of that income between rich, poor and middle income families. The latest data, published in March 2012, is for the year 2010; a year when the recession continued to bite and the wage reductions, welfare cuts and tax increases of various budgets were continuing to have notable impacts on Irish families and the challenges many face to make ends meet.

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Gambling Tax Law Issues

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As of 1st December 2014, gambling operators, whether based in the UK or otherwise, will have to pay a Point of Consumption Tax on their UK players. As part of the UK government’s crackdown on…

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What’s Behind the Central Bank’s Destructive Agenda to Drive Down Wages?


Jimmy Kelly of Unite has an article up on the at the moment that is worth paying attention to. He asks why the Central Bank of Ireland recently claimed that Irish labour costs are too high and that wage cuts of up to 10 per cent are needed to ‘restore competitiveness’.

The CBoI statement, however, provided absolutely no evidence as a basis for making the suggestion.  On the contrary, as Jimmy thoroughly explains, there is plenty of evidence that Irish wages when compared to EU countries are well below average and with Greece is the only EU country where wages are falling.

UNITE has put together the true picture of Irish labour costs by using data from the EU Commission’s data agency, Eurostat. We examined the private sector (or what’s called the ‘Business Economy’). What does this picture look like?

Ireland ranks 10th out of the EU-15 countries, right at the average. Nine other countries have higher labour costs. However, this graph doesn’t tell the full story.

  • When Irish labour costs are compared to those of EU-Core countries (excluding the poorer peripheral countries), Ireland falls 11 percent below average, ranking second to last.
  • And when compared to economies with a similar structure as our own (small and open, heavily reliant on exports), Irish Ireland falls 18 percent below average, ranking last.

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It’s Called Hunger

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A new report is out – Constructing a Food Poverty Indicator for Ireland.  It estimates that one in ten people experienced ‘food poverty’ in 2010.  In other words, hunger. I know the phrase ‘must-read’ is sometimes over-used, but this is truly a must-read report. The very idea that one-in-ten of our neighbours suffer from food poverty is truly frightening.  Maybe you won’t be guaranteed a job, maybe you won’t be guaranteed free medical care regardless of your need, but surely in a civilised society we can ensure that no one goes without food.  That we can’t, that we don’t, says something about the kind of society that is being created for us.

This estimate produced by Caroline Carney (General Council of the Bar of England and Wales) and Bertrand Maître (ESRI) is based on a careful methodology.  It uses deprivation indicators that relate to food in the EU’s Survey of Income and Living Conditions:

  • Inability to afford a meal with meat or vegetarian equivalent every second day
  • Inability to afford a roast or vegetarian equivalent once a week
  • Whether during the last fortnight, there was at least one day (i.e. from getting up to going to bed) when the respondent did not have a substantial meal due to lack of money
  • Inability to have family or friends for a meal or drink once a month

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An oil bonanza, but not for the Irish people

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I'm cross-posting this article by Michael Burke which was originally published in the Guardian's Comment is Free, as I think he makes a very important argument about how Ireland should treat it's oil and gas reserves which I feel like promoting in some way.

Discovery of oil off the southwest cost of Ireland has prompted talk of it being great news for the Irish economy. It could certainly do with some. But the announcement that known oil reserves are commercially recoverable is unlikely to offer any great boon to the economy as a whole. There may be a bonanza, but it will be only for a small coterie of Irish banking, property and oil tycoons who continue to benefit from the state's largesse while most of the population struggles in the fifth consecutive year of economic slump.

There is a long history of pillage of Ireland's natural resources, beginning with England's deforestation of the country for its navy. More recently, domestic politicians have continued that trend. The disgraced former energy minister Ray Burke was in office when Fianna Fáil granted extraordinarily favourable oil exploration licences to oil companies. The former head of Enterprise Energy Ireland, Brian O'Cathain, is reported to have said that some oil developers, such as Shell, will pay no royalties at all for the lucrative Corrib field, worth up to €10bn, and elected representatives have called on the current Fine Gael/Labour party coalition government to reverse the deal, so far without success.

The troika of EU, IMF and European Central Bank have insisted that Irish taxpayers bail out bondholders in failed Irish banks even while the domestic economy continues to contract. The domestic troika, Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Labour, continue to insist there is no alternative.

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Investment Will Boost China’s Economy

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The underlying weakness in the US, European and Japanese economies was underestimated in China’s forecasts for 2012. The US is currently consuming more capital than it creates, while its percentage of investment in GDP is near post-World War II lows. Japan’s investment levels have declined for two decades while its savings rate has fallen. EU investment is the lowest percentage of GDP since World War II and declining. These economies cannot achieve rapid recovery under such conditions.

These structural features dictated the poor short term performance of Western economies during 2012. The EU entered a new recession with GDP still 2.1% below 2008’s peak levels. Japan’s latest GDP data shows tortoise like 0.8% annualized growth with output still 1.9% below its peak. US GDP growth decelerated from 4.1% at the end of 2011 to 1.7% in the last quarter. The US PMI fell for three months to 49.6 in August. US industrial production in the same month only rose 2.8% compared to a year previously – less than a third of China’s growth.

The problems in developed economies directly affected China. China’s 10% projected export increase in 2012 will not be achieved, helping explain why China's economy significantly decelerated in the first part of the year. GDP growth fell to 7.8 percent in the first half of the year, while August’s industrial growth declined to 8.9 percent and the official manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index fell to 49.2.

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How Ireland Guaranteed the Shadow Banking System


There is a tendency these days in articles by right-wing TDs and libertarian economists in particular to talk up how the Troika bailout was not provided for the Irish people to pay for schools and hospitals during a financial crisis but was provided simply to pay back French and German banks for the money they lent Irish banks during the credit bubble. Further that by the unwillingness of the ECB to reduce that debt we are forced to pay in full for mistakes that are not the responsibility of the Irish people. For example, Mario Dragi’s response to Gay Mitchell’s question in the European Parliament:

“It’s too easy to think that the ECB can replace governments’ action or lack of it, printing money. That’s not going to happen”.

Now, while there is a great deal of truth in the injustice of the matter, it neglects one important aspect as far as I can see. It follows the narrative that the Irish political establishment has no hand or part in this dreadful imposition. Ultimately it suggests that the pressure we are being put under comes exclusively from an external authoritarian source – the IMF/ECB/EU Troika. There is no mention of the fact that the imposition of the bailout in order to pay back French and German bank losses in full was imposed on Ireland because of the nature of Ireland’s blanket bank guarantee.

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October Socialist Voice Out Now!

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October Socialist Voice Out Now!

The October issue of Socialist Voice can be viewed online:


  1. Fine Gael firmly in the driving seat [EMC]
  2. Latvia and Lithuania: a demographic disaster [COM]
  3. Privatisation: robbing the people’s wealth [EMC]
  4. Why Keynesianism will not deliver the goods [NC]
  5. Understanding the crisis and putting the system on trial [NL]
  6. Turning a human right into a commodity
  7. Is state censorship of the media returning? [BH]
  8. Essay competition on the international brigades
  9. The Shankill and the Falls fight together! [TR]
  10. Labour helps Obama to subvert Venezuela [TMS]
  11. Obama at the United Nations [BG]
  12. George Morrison honoured by the Progressive Film Club [MNM]

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Noonan Letting the Cat Out of the Bag

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The statement today by the minister for finance, Michael Noonan, calling on the European Central Bank to make a “declaration of intent” about some kind of solution in relation to the Anglo-Irish Bank promissory notes is a clear sign of desperation by a government that has neither the political will nor the courage to challenge this illegitimate and odious anti-people debt dumped on the backs of our people.

The Irish establishment has been claiming almost every time they come back from these jamborees that they have struck a deal; but no sooner have they their backsides back in their Mercs than their “deal” unravels.

This is the first time that any Irish minister has publicly admitted that there is strong link between the government’s budget strategy and the repayments of this odious debt. This he did when he stated: “It would help me doing the budgetary arithmetic if something could be arranged” in relation to the promissory notes.

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Politics of Indignation

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By imparting a consciousness of human struggle against neoliberal violence and its ramifications, Politics of Indignation provides a discourse which seeks to disrupt the process through which citizens have become fodder for imperialist powers to consolidate a destructive political system.

Capitalism created a culture of oblivion, distorting international solidarity through globalization. The fragmenting of human rights discourse alienated the scope of internationalism, thus enabling imperialism and the media to create an imaginary platform of unity which strives to consolidate divergences, geopolitical stereotypes and control over freedom. Mayo discerns a flow of coercion which, through playing upon concepts such as citizenship, identity and the value of humanity, threatens to rupture unity within the oppressed.

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