For Lefties too Stubborn to Quit
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A 4 Day Week
workers issues |
Sunday June 12, 2011 14:38 by ordinary citizen
The possibility of radical positive change
The system is creating the backlash that could allow new ways of running the country, new ideas to be given a chance, a path of inclusion over competition
A 4 day week
As the lies of neo-liberal economics become more and more apparent, the possibility of a new direction in our society is becoming ever more tangible. A system that demands constant growth for an decreasing few is not only unsustainable environmentally but also socially.
The top 1% increased their wealth from 36% to 38% between 2007 and 2009. The system that has been set up to benefit those with capital has drained the Third World dry and now has its eyes on the ordinary workers of the First World, all to benefit a Premier World which has no nationality only huge bank accounts. The problem is that the people of the Developed nations are more educated, more informed and thus have more power than the mostly helpless people the system has attacked up to now.
Most of the mainstream media is right wing and for years now has been doing a good job in distracting people from the real issues that they should be concerned with but the power of the internet is slowly breaking this cycle. Lies are being exposed at ever faster rates, the old rules of spin are being replaced by transparency, an idea that frightens the ruling elite.
A great example of transparency in action can be seen in the open tax system of Norway and Sweden whereby all the tax records of its citizens are free to be accessed by its citizens. If this was in place here it would immediately end the Sunday pay rates issue. For if you saw that your boss was earning very little you would be willing to take a pay cut but if you saw that they were still earning good money then it would become obvious that they are just taking advantage of the Recession to push through agendas unpalatable before the crisis, as explained by Naomi Klein in “The Shock Doctrine”.
The longer we try and hold onto the fallacy that we are going to pay off this national debt, which will reach between €200 billion and €250 billion by 2014, the stronger the voice for change will become. The model we are using to balance the budget is one that affects the poorest in our society most while leaving the elite either in the same situation as before or often better off. Fine Gael put into the new Programme for Government that there would be no new taxes on the rich, as times get harder this core issue is going to be harder and harder for grass roots Labour supporters to accept. The fact that we are expected to knock another €9 billion off the budget in the next three years is going to make this government very unpopular on top of crushing our economy.
There is going to be a massive backlash that will eventually force Labour out of government and create the possibility of a dramatic shift in Irish politics never seen since the foundation to the state. Ideas like a maximum wage will be accepted as a real option, thus reversing the stranglehold IBEC have had on wage discussions.
As the inevitability of default becomes ever more apparent Morgan Kelly’s idea that we will have to balance the budget immediately will become ever more obvious a solution, in fact a necessity. Fintan O Toole’s idea to not pay any public servant over €100.000 will be easier to implement if people like Joe Higgins and Sinn Fein are in power as they have been living by example on the average industrial wage.
There will be a few public servants whose massive mortgages will need to be subsidised by the state but if you look at the older members of our society who bought houses when they were relatively cheap and who now have little or no mortgages to pay, they can easily afford a pay cut. A recent report found that older people in Ireland have over €700 a week disposable income, compare this to young families who are barely able to feed their children.
There is going to be a battle between the young and the old. I would not agree with all that John Waters has to say but I do agree with his premise that Irish society is controlled by an elderly elite, especially in journalism. Yes they had it hard in their past but they did not have the massive debt over their heads that modern families are dealing with thanks to neo-liberal politicians, like McCreevy and Harney getting into power at the worst possible time.
What is needed is people in power who will break this cozy cartel of well paid people in Irish society. To get ahead and succeed in Ireland for the last few decades you had to play by the rules, those who stood up for what is right were often shot back down, while those who played by the rules of their keepers were well paid for their lack of morals. People with no allegiance to this system, that has been built to defend itself, are essential for the radical change that is needed to balance the budget without unnecessarily impacting the weakest in our society.
If this can be achieved and our budget is balanced then we can implement the investment in alternative energy that Morgan Kelly spoke of. This is the one area that the markets will give us money towards. It has been estimated that we have the potential to export up to €50billion worth of alternative energy on top of our own use, thus making us the Saudi Arabia of alternative energy and unlike the Arab nations our winds, waves and tides are not going to run out.
Stepping back from our present situation and analysing our assets we can see that we have enough housing built to do us for the next 20 to 30 years or so. The ghost estates can be the future homes of the agricultural workers that will be needed to provide us with organic food as oil prices make the conventional model of farming obsolete. So we can be self sufficient in food, energy and housing, thus getting the core essentials right as opposed to the obsession with getting the banking system back on track that is destroying our country.
When we default, who is in power will have a dramatic effect on what direction our society is going to take. If we have Labour/Sinn Fein/ ULA/Independent left alliance we have the potential to make massive changes never considered possible in the neo-liberal model. Historically we can look to the truly left wing Labour government that was elected in Britain in 1946. From the chaos and destruction of the war this government was able to bring in free health care for all, something that over 60 years later Obama was crucified over trying to do, on top of them starting a massive house building project for the poor.
If we go even further back it was in the madness of the trenches in World War 1 that the left wing political parties grew strong, it was the obvious nonchalance of the ruling elites in positions of power who threw more and more brave men at machine guns that created the backlash that saw its fruition several decades later. This I feel is what is gradually happening in modern Ireland and beyond. The arrogance of a relatively small minority propped up by PR Gurus and other professionals who are well paid to attack any dissenters, is becoming more and more obvious daily. The simple message of tax the rich, lock up a few white collar criminals and bring some balance to the distribution of wealth is ringing through to an ever larger audience.
If you look at modern wages approximately 40% goes towards the mortgage. Now if we default these debts could be rearranged requiring only 20% to go towards the loans on the condition that instead of working the other day that the days work saved will be given to someone unemployed. Thus for every four people in this situation one person will have a four day week job and people will have an extra day to spend with the ones they love. In Ireland due to our weather a four day week is all the more important as there are too many wet and miserable weekends for our lives to find the fulfilment required to get us through another week at work.
There can be many other options available due to a massive shift in the way our country is run. We can truly start to invest in our young by bringing disadvantaged children out to the country on adventure breaks, thus making them feel a part of society and not only ever seeing the system as the officer hassling them. Here I will use the strangest example; Nazi Germany. The Nazis brought young people out on adventure breaks in nature and brought a certain amount of fun into their lives. When these young men fought in the front lines they fought to the very end. When Normandy was attacked by the Allies the older German soldiers retreated to fight another day whereas the 17/18 year olds did not retreat and fought to the death.
Can you imagine this type of commitment used productively? Can you imagine a society that invests in its young from an early age and what type of place we could become if such grass roots changes were implemented. We could become a happier, safer and more balanced society that has truly evolved from the cut throat, aggressive, competitive neo-liberal model to a more inclusive, co-operative, transparent and just society.
I believe that the path of division that we are following is making this dream a possible reality, that from the ashes of this forest fire or greed, new saplings of positive change are possible. That with the mistakes of our past as a guide of what not to do and the trials and errors of our new ideas brightening our lives with the knowledge that we are finally on a path that is built on the concept of what is good for the majority and the planet takes president over the wishes of a well healed minority. These changes will not be fast and there will be many bumps along the way but when we have hope in our hearts and truth in our words we can overcome all obstacles in our way and truly make this world a better place for our children to live in.