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Sunday Independent Stupid Statement of the Week May 27, 2012

Posted by Garibaldy in Sunday Independent Stupid Statement of the Week.

Apparently Shane Ross calling for a No has thrown the result into doubt all on his own.

This week’s winner by several lengths, Marc Coleman

Perhaps the biggest lie in this referendum is the lie that says austerity doesn’t work.

Like Christianity and capitalism, the trouble with austerity is that it has so rarely been properly tried.

Good to see him back to his best.


1. makedoanmend - May 27, 2012

I suspect Mr. Coleman is neither a true Christian nor Capitalist. While he has the bible to rely upon for christian mythology, I’m willing to bet that he studiously ignores things like how it easier for a rich man to pass through the eye of a needle than to get into heaven, or how the meek shall inherit the earth. As there is no capitalist primer, per say, he has to reply upon those who create the mythological bullshit as they go along, although it must be said Coleman is one helluva bullshiter himself. I wonder if Coleman, and his ilk, ever wonder about the validity of what they spout.

Or as with all bullshiters, do they come to believe their own bullshit? To believe otherwise would force them to confront the inconsistencies of their own mythology. Easier to wallow in the mire.


Oireachtas Retort - May 27, 2012

Coleman, his paper and their various hobby horses always remind of Nietzsche..

Nothing on earth consumes a man more quickly than the passion of resentment


ivorthorne - May 27, 2012

“Perhaps the biggest lie in this referendum is the lie that says austerity doesn’t work.

Like Christianity and capitalism, the trouble with austerity is that it has so rarely been properly tried.”

Okay, let’s accept Coleman’s argument that the austerity we’ve seen is not Real Austerity.

Surely then, Coleman would accept the argument that we do not know that Real Austerity works. If something has not been tried, then there is no/little evidence for its effectiveness.

Perhaps he might also accept that the fact that Real Austerity has so infrequently been utilised reflects the fact that it is difficult to implement.

If we’re going to use a tactic that is difficult to implement that has little/no evidence to support it, maybe we should try out something a little less likely to hurt the most vulnerable people in our society.


makedoanmend - May 27, 2012

Ivort – I agree but, just to clear up any confusion caused by my ramblings:

I suppose a more direct approach to my point is that there is no such thing as “the” Christianity nor “the” Capitalism. There is a veritable buffet of christianities and capitalisms.

Ask your average punter what capitalism is – to define it. Expect quite a few different answers, and quite a few that will be incoherent.

Coleman, dare I say, holds up false idols – the ideal of perfection where no perfection resides. He picks and chooses what capitalism is on any given day, or what his paymasters think it should be. They make it up as they go along.

Versions of austerity have been around for a long time, operating under many various guises.

A fella called Keynes made a nice little name for himself by pointing out the pitfalls of demand destruction caused by “natural” slow downs in an economy and the need to avoid austerity so that demand destruction didn’t become reinforcing as it had done in past era. It was his method of trying to save capitalism from capitalists.

Modern austerity is only concerned with one thing. Cutting taxes and privitising services. Well, two things.

best regards


ejh - May 27, 2012

In fact Coleman’s approach isn’t so uncommon for free-market enthusiasts, even those more mainstream than he. One of the notable intellectual features of the direction economics has taken over the past forty years is a tendency to replace (to a large degree) empirical observation of actually existing economies with various theoretical tools: game theory being one such. Another is a preference for advancing putative and theoretical free-market solutions that would make everything much better but which are never actually arrived at because in reality everything falls apart on the way.

This, of course, allows their advocates to claim that they were never actually done properly, and to avoid the intellectual consequences of failure. As these advocates tend to be pretty well off, they are usually able to escape the practical consequences of failure as well.


ivorthorne - May 27, 2012

It’s funny but sometimes people like Coleman seem to view people and their learning histories as obstacles to achieving their goals. They would sooner change people to suit the system than vice versa. It seems to come down to the mentality than many economists and business people have that we are, first and foremost, human resources – things to be used to grow the economy.


2. GM - May 27, 2012

The large economies haven’t really cut government spending, they’ve just slowed down a bit: http://mercatus.org/publication/fiscal-austerity-europe-doesnt-mean-large-spending-cuts

For Ireland, these figures aren’t inflation-adjusted, but they show that the Irish government spent about as much in 2011 as they did in 2007, and easily more than twice as much as they did in 2000: http://per.gov.ie/expenditure-trends/

Given that there were unjustifiable double-digit increases in many of the bubble years, a couple of 4-5% drops are not all that dramatic. In the context of the collapse in revenue, it’s a fairly pathetic level of cutback.


ivorthorne - May 27, 2012

And yet more people die on hospital trolleys, those with disabilities and their carers see their allowances decimated and those with the smallest wage packets have seen them hit significantly.

In the meantime, those earners in the top percentile have seen their wealth increase!


makedoanmend - May 27, 2012

Adjust for inflation, and then adjust for “unofficial” inflation. Adjust for tax avoidance while you’re at it.

It’s easy throwing out some figures and claiming a few wee cuts here and there are justified.

How about adjusting from relative poverty to dire poverty, as many are experiencing in our societies.

Yet the wealthy got wealthier in the UK and US during the period where “a couple of 4-5% drops are not all that dramatic”, and where the cuts have severely affected people who don’t earn 6 figure incomes; many earning 4 digit incomes these days. A 10% cut on a 4 figure income, or likewise a 10 % reduction in services, has vastly more impact on these people than it does for those who earn 6 figure incomes.

I suppose until we stop these “pathetic” cutbacks and do some real damage, like when a few people starve to death or freeze to death, we’ll know we’re doing an un-pathetic job.

And as a bonus, a few people starving to death will make those minumum wage jobs and growing number of part time jobs seem like manna from heaven. Sure, these types of jobs can’t meet the increasing costs of retns and privatised services coupled with the increasing costs of basic staples. But, hey, there’s always pay-day loans with interest of over a 1000%.


GM - May 27, 2012

By any sane definition of restraint, government austerity would at least mean running a surplus. A large surplus which allowed significant amounts of debt to be repaid would constitute genuine austerity on the part of the government. If the deficits are still astronomical, which they are, then this is not “austerity”. The fact that it is billed as such just proves how large the population of tax-consumers has become, how dependent they are, and how loud they are.


ejh - May 27, 2012

Or it could mean that there is massive unemployment and that you are something of an ass.


Ed - May 28, 2012

+1 (especially the donkey part).


makedoanmend - May 27, 2012

Where did the so-called astronomical deficits come from? Funny money’s the answer. Growth based on inflationary policies. When the bubble burst, the lenders who fueled the inflationary speculation decided they shouldn’t pay for their policies.

The tax paying population should.

That the lenders also want to privitise social service revenue streams is just icing on the cake. Or adding insult to injury.

The base of tax consumers is the number of people in the nation. Everyone consumes tax, be it for roads, defense or any other program.

It’s austerity for the people at the sharp end of the stick.

Because one speaks sotto voce doesn’t make one correct.


GM - May 27, 2012

I think you’ve hit the nail on the head.

Funny money from Europe – artifically low interest rates courtesy of the ECB and the false security of monetary union with Germany – is at the heart of what happened. When the bubble burst, the largest financial institutions put a gun to the heads of politicians and said that if they didn’t bail them out, there would be an economic Armageddon. The resulting actions made the insolvency of heavily indebted peripheral governments worse, particularly in Ireland. The average person is now shouldering bank debt which is not rightfully theirs. It’s the greatest bank robbery of all times – and it’s the banks who’ve committed the robbery. The banks should have been allowed to fail, even if it meant that depositors could have taken a hit. We need to create and return to a system where those who suffer as a result of their own actions do not get to transfer their losses via the government to those who did nothing wrong.


makedoanmend - May 27, 2012

Under Thatcher, Reagan and Bush, the younger, the expansion in state spending all went up by huge amounts. They paid for wars and homeland security with tax payer money. So much for conservatives putting the “brakes” on.

Your definition of tax consumers is rather simplistic, to say the very least. How do you measure national security and apply it to every individual in society, not to mention domestic harmony? One can’t is the answer.

Oh, and public servants provide public services. We pay for the services through taxes, gaining economies of scale. These people, therefore, earn their wages.

But I do hope that the various law makers follow your consistently simplistic assumptions. Doing so can only bring capitalism down around our ears all the quicker.

One gathers from your all musings that you are put upon about paying taxes. You’re getting a raw deal. I would assume then you were born and operate in a place where no infrastructure existed prior to your arrival, and where your personal wealth creation occurred in a social vacuum.

Sounds ideal.


GM - May 28, 2012

I’m not here to defend Thatcher, Reagan or Bush. They all have terrible records, and I’ve said I agree that conservatives are useless at cutting spending. It’s not controversial to suggest that the Left is in a general sense even more willing to drive up the deficits, however, is it? Would a Republican administration have spent even more than Obama? Would the Labour party be cutting more quickly than the Conservatives and Lib Dems if they had held onto power in the UK? The answer to both questions must be “probably not”, although I agree that the differences are in any meaningful sense irrelevant.

There are plenty of public sector workers who earn their wages, agreed. It’s probably a bit harsh to call the typical public sector worker a “tax consumer” but there is clarity in seeing how many people are reliant on public money for their livelihood. It’s also more fair than calling them “public servants” since they are perfectly capable and willing to vote and to overpower in the polls the taxpayers whom they are supposedly serving. When public sector workers turn out and vote for politicians on the back of promises of the uninterrupted flow of money taken at the point of a gun from their fellow citizens, they are not serving the public. They are serving themselves. If they would give up the franchise, we would know that they were genuinely interested in “serving the public”.


ejh - May 28, 2012

It’s also more fair than calling them “public servants” since they are perfectly capable and willing to vote and to overpower in the polls the taxpayers whom they are supposedly serving. When public sector workers turn out and vote for politicians on the back of promises of the uninterrupted flow of money taken at the point of a gun from their fellow citizens, they are not serving the public. They are serving themselves. If they would give up the franchise, we would know that they were genuinely interested in “serving the public”.

This is insane, of course.


makedoanmend - May 28, 2012

No, GM, the conservatives in general are no more stupid nor useless than any other segement of society. They are human, and as such they are not pure. They have not conformed to Libertarian idealism.

They do not, when confronted with the consequences of their actions in power and realising what affects their actions have, always enact what Libertarian idealism deems as purist policy – whatever that may be at any given time.

Fortunately for you, there are cohorts of Libertarian minded people in power across the globe, but most notably in the current UK government and possibly in November in the USA. I would say that many of the current crop of EU statespeople also share Libertarian tendencies but their immediate goals are largely dictated by circumstances and the need to create certain power structures before they can pursue more ‘formal’ policies. They are making great strides.

That said, we have seen the where this is leading. We have had a staunch Libertarian as chair of the FED, and we have see where that lead. Not content with the success of creating the current depression, they are intent on using the depression to further line their own pockets at the price of other people’s misery. But I fear the purists, although they can never obtain the goal of complete purity of ideal since their ideals rest upon the shifting sands of a physical universe, will do enough damage to ordinary people and the project will end in disaster, as have all purist ideologies. The capitalist version will just be bigger and better at catastrophe than anything we’ve ever experienced before.

Libertarians wish to overthrow the notion of Homo-sapiens and replace it with Homo-economus. Whilst the former title is misleading the latter title is ludicrous.

The Libertarian reading of economics is wrong, its reading of economic history is wrong, and its ability to understand the human condition so shallow that every Libertarian argument borders on sheer lunacy when taken to their logical conclusions.


GM - May 29, 2012

makedoanmend, weak knowledge of the libertarian movement is exposed by your reference to Alan Greenspan. He is reviled amongst libertarians for going against everything he claimed to believe in by taking his position at the Fed. The only people you will find supporting him are some mainstream conservatives and a few ignorant centre-right people. We hate him over in the libertarian movement, I assure you.

As for the UK government, the Tories aren’t conservative enough even for mainstream UK conservatives, who are defecting to UKIP in decent numbers. If it’s not conservative enough for conservatives, it’s certainly not libertarian enough for libertarians. Again, you don’t seem to know anything about what you’re critiquing. Look at the ASI’s criticism of the UK government to see an example of how some libertarian-minded people actually feel about the UK government. http://www.adamsmith.org/blog/liberty-justice/our-road-to-serfdom

Finally, your comment about the EU was laughable. Most libertarians believe the EU should be broken up immediately. The very existence and institutions of the EU go against everything which we believe in. I don’t think you should talk about the libertarian movement again until you know the slightest thing about it.


EWI - May 27, 2012

Oh, please. We both know that nobody cares about debt, conservatives least of all – didn’t Greenspan himself call surpluses evil? All conservatives care about is cutting taxes on the wealthy. Anything else is a rhetorical means to an and.

Oh, and “tax-consumers” is cute. Care to give us all a laugh and define who you’re including/excluding from this definition?


GM - May 27, 2012

I agree with you. Conservatives are useless. Nobody believes in fiscal responsibility anymore. The only difference is that conservatives might apply some brakes in the last few moments before their country goes off the cliff, with the Left would be accelerating all the way.

Tax consumers are all of those who don’t pay taxes but are instead paid out of other people’s taxes, or who receive in taxes more than they pay in. It should go without saying that public sector workers do not pay tax.


ivorthorne - May 27, 2012

“It should go without saying that public sector workers do not pay tax.”


So, might we also include the large number of private sector workers and companies who benefit from public services? So, say, if benefit from the use a road, or a fire service, the education system or a police service we should also include these in the analysis? If the cost of privately contracting for the same kind of services is greater than what you pay in tax, are you also a tax-consumer?


GM - May 27, 2012

Public sector workers don’t pay taxes because if all tax rates were set to zero, their incomes would not rise to their gross levels. Instead, their incomes would go to zero too. This is not to suggest that all public services are therefore worthless. It just helps to identify who is drawing a living from the State.


3. ivorthorne - May 27, 2012

It seems that I have underestimated the importance of Shane Ross. I was unaware of his near-magical ability to decide the outcomes of our political games.

Clearly, the Yes & No supporters both thought that Ross supported their position, but it turns out the No supporters were right, and the red-faced Yes supporters will quickly change their preference. It’s great to see that the Don’t Knows were correct in waiting to see what the Papa Ross Llama would say before making up their minds.


ejh - May 27, 2012

A pedant writes: I think you may mean Lama. A llama is a four-legged creature native to South America.


ivorthorne - May 27, 2012

That too.


4. Shane Ross calling for a No vote in the referendum. | Machholz's Blog - May 27, 2012

[…] Sunday Independent Stupid Statement of the Week (cedarlounge.wordpress.com) […]


5. que - May 27, 2012

“Excluding ‘Don’t Knows’, support for the parties is: Fine Gael (36 per cent); Labour (12 per cent); FF (17 per cent); Independents/Others (13 per cent); Sinn Fein (20 per cent); Greens (one per cent); United Left Alliance (one per cent).”

Millward Brown in the Sindo


6. Alan Rouge - May 27, 2012

Fintan o’Toole has also been making this “let’s have REAL austerity” argument.


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