As the year closes there are good reasons to be hopeful for 2012. Despite the white knuckle ride in Europe this year when cumbersome politics played a failed game of catch up with markets, the early signs are that some calm is returning. The Euro isn't going down without a fight and may yet end 2012 in better shape. Spanish borrowing costs have sharply fallen. German business confidence is defying the trend by rising and the US economy is adding jobs at a faster pace than most thought. But it's all very fragile and cannot yet be described as a sustainable trend. The last Summit, despite the massive gaps in policy such as ECB intervention and growth stimulus, has unnerved those betting against the Euro as the European banking system is being more robustly back stopped by the ECB, lessening the risk of a Lehmann-style event. It is a far cry from just a few weeks ago.
At home tactics are also becoming clear. Irish support for the new fiscal compact is contingent on restructuring our bank bailout debt. This is not forgiveness but restructuring that would lessen the burden by lengthening the loan repayments and lowering the borrowing costs. Once again we've learned that all the pre-election guff about unilaterally defaulting was the stuff pure fiction.
Which brings us to the paucity of some of the opposition. It's car crash radio and TV listening to the warped economics of the hard left where jobs can be created out of thin air by expropriating the assets of the wealthy and putting the unemployed to work in fixing the water system. Ten billion Euros a year are up for grabs in extra taxes we are solemnly told but a beginners guide to economics will quickly tell you that human beings adjust their behaviour. Income tax receipts are falling precisely because the top rate is already at a tipping point. Raise the rate and destroy the revenues further. The flight of mobile capital out of Ireland would dwarf many times over whatever could be collected in a crass wealth tax but you can’t tell that to those who simply can’t see or won’t see.
Still the ULA persist. Whenever challenged about how they intend funding state paid jobs, the answer always is to expropriate the assets of the rich. When asked how they intend to sustain new industries the answer never is about encouraging prosperity but rather instead about grabbing OPM – Other People’s Money. Most of us get it –the Irish hard left are pretty harmless but we don’t forget that Trotsky and Lenin understood that the only way their socialist policies could work is by brute force. You can only stop capital flight at the point of a gun and you can only enforce equality of prosperity by cracking down on opposition and suppressing the human instinct to achieve better for oneself and one’s family.
Thankfully our hard left are nothing like the Bolsheviks. The ULA and its leader’s Higgins, Daly and Boyd Barrett are much more like the People's Front of Judea (PFJ), the anti-Roman splinter group at the heart of Jewish resistance in The Life of Brian. They are against everything and seem to despise how the world works, sharing a particular disdain for the middle classes whom they feel, at best are unenlightened and, at worst, have sold out. They offer nothing other than protest as a workable alternative. The real left opposition will coalesce around Sinn Fein as it develops more informed and mature policies helped in no small way by the absurd theatrics from the nearby Dail benches.
- Eddie Hobbs