Hi faithful blog readers, many apologies for the long delay in following up my last post about the upcoming Lisbon Treaty. It is getting really close now, June 12th is the day of the referendum. Isn't it just amazing how many "Yes" posters there are? All the main parties and even ICTU are supporting a Yes vote. Seems overwhelming, they must be right surely? Well, notice how it's never really explained just what the referendum is all about? We are asked to just vote "for Europe", "for a Europe that works better", "good for Ireland, good for Europe" etc... without any explanation of how whatever details are actually in the treaty will benefit the lives of the population if they pass the Treaty.
And there we have a crucial point, the population, the ordinary joe soaps, the "plebs" just like you and me if you will, just what will we benefit? Presumably a yes vote will benefit some, but will it benefit ordinary people? We are told that the treaty contains a sensible number of adjustments designed to enable the EU to function more effectively and provide a better EU, but it is NEVER explained how the treaty would actually be more sensible or more effective for the majority population of Ireland or indeed Europe.
Funny how the arguments tend to hide the details and avoid rational discussion. We are told that it will make things more efficient! Sure it will, but the Nazi's were very efficient! Efficiency means nothing, what precisely the EU is supposed to be doing so efficiently is surely the issue.
It might sound like a silly question but just what does the EU do? Yes we all have these Euro coins in our pockets now but what is the real political purpose behind it that the political elite clearly believe will be furthered by the passing of this referendum?
The EU is primarily about an neo-liberal integration of european economies. Neo-liberalism is a set of ideas that promotes a utopian version of capitalism that believes that if "distortions" to competition are removed, the market will function perfectly without booms and recessions. Within this ideology all barriers that prevent the mobility of capital must be removed and corporations should be able to scour the world at will in order to make maximum profits. High taxes on profits are seen as the worst distortion. Instead of fair taxation to provide social welfare that gives the unemployed a safety net, neoliberalism demands policies of low taxation and meagre welfare benefits that force people into poorly paid jobs and thereby increase corporate profits further.
A clear example of this is the drive toward privatization or the "opening up" of economies. Efficient and well run services that serve a public good are broken up and sold off to private companies that then own the infrastructure and make profits from selling their products or services in the market in typical neoliberal fashion.
Over recent years a series of EU directives were issued to promote the "liberalisation" of whole sectors of the economy. Politicians would typically tell their electorates that "there is nothing that can be done because of an EU directive", without explaining that these directives were formulated behind closed doors often in cohoots with industry lobby groups. Such directives include telecommunications (1990), railways (1991), electricity (1996), postal services (1997) and gas (1998). The full liberalisation of the postal service is supposed to begin in 2009.
It makes sense for many things to be provided as a service and coordinated centrally by the state, clearly benefiting ordinary people. Obviously this included transportation, energy, health and communications to some extent. Many government policies on these issues, in accordance with the direction of the EU, clearly do not benefit ordinary people.
Does anyone remember the absurd situation of schools having to pay water charges that arose last year? It makes no sense at all. Schools don't have enough funding as it is and then they are supposed give some of their state funding back to the very same state which is in turn providing the water in the first place. It just amounts to a massive cut in funding for schools. But how did this situation arise? It arose because of the "EU water framework directive," which states: "Member states shall take account of the principle of recovery of the costs of water services, including environmental and resource costs...Member states shall ensure by 2010 that all water-pricing policies provide adequate incentives for users to use water resources efficiently...[and that there be] an adequate contribution of different water uses, disaggregated into at least industry,households and agriculture, to the recovery of costs of water services."
So member states are instructed to make their populations pay for water directly no matter what their populations think (how democratic) The neoliberal notion that common resources should be dismantled to allow people to "choose" how much water they need or want to pay for is hiding behind a fake concern for the environment.
Funny now its referendum time, you don't hear anything about this at all, just "vote yes for Europe" and we'll all live happily ever flippin' after. Funny how you don't hear anything about the coming privatization of the post offices.
A yes vote will only further transfer powers to an unelected EU commission to make decisions for us on how we deal with our public services.
I could go on and on but this blog post is getting very long so will post again soon:-)