## Irony

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Edited by Aideen Devine, Sunday, 11 Oct 2020, 09:45

It's rather ironic that the year I was doing a 'writing course' is the one in which I was writing very little for the blog.  I'm off work this week so I promised myself I would use this week to get back in the habit of more regular postings.

There is so much going on in politics at the moment that it's a bit difficult to decide where to begin.  Greece is the big news and good luck to them for defying the 'autocrats' and fear mongering of the troika and voting no.  The biggest threat to the EU monolith is the chance that Greece would pull out and make a success of running their own country - I sincerely hope they do, then maybe Spain, Portugal and Ireland might consider doing the same.  I support the idea of a common market for Europe but I don't support the idea of a European State controlled by corporations, the IMF and the World Bank.  The creation of the single currency was a con that sucked in poorer nations who were never going to be able to compete economically with richer nations like Germany, and now it has come back to bite them on the ass and deservedly so - I've pasted this article by Chris Kanthan from nation of change.org as he can explain it all much better than me;

Every single mainstream media has the following narrative for the economic crisis in Greece: the government spent too much money and went broke; the generous banks gave them money, but Greece still can't pay the bills because it mismanaged the money that was given. It sounds quite reasonable, right?

Except that it is a big fat lie ... not only about Greece, but about other European countries such as Spain, Portugal, Italy and Ireland who are all experiencing various degrees of austerity. It was also the same big, fat lie that was used by banks and corporations to exploit many Latin American, Asian and African countries for many decades.

Greece did not fail on its own. It was made to fail.

In summary, the banks wrecked the Greek government and deliberately pushed it into unsustainable debt so that oligarchs and international corporations can profit from the ensuing chaos and misery.

If you are a fan of mafia movies, you know how the mafia would take over a popular restaurant. First, they would do something to disrupt the business - stage a murder at the restaurant or start a fire. When the business starts to suffer, the Godfather would generously offer some money as a token of friendship. In return, Greasy Thumb takes over the restaurant's accounting, Big Joey is put in charge of procurement, and so on. Needless to say, it's a journey down a spiral of misery for the owner who will soon be broke and, if lucky, alive.

Now, let's map the mafia story to international finance in four stages.

Stage 1: The first and foremost reason that Greece got into trouble was the "Great Financial Crisis” of 2008 that was the brainchild of Wall Street and international bankers. If you remember, banks came up with an awesome idea of giving subprime mortgages to anyone who can fog a mirror. They then packaged up all these ticking financial bombs and sold them as "mortgage-backed securities” at a huge profit to various financial entities in countries around the world.

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A big enabler of this criminal activity was another branch of the banking system, the group of rating agencies - S&P, Fitch and Moody's - who gave stellar ratings to these destined-to-fail financial products. Unscrupulous politicians such as Tony Blair got paid by Big Banks to peddle these dangerous securities to pension funds and municipalities and countries around Europe. Banks and Wall Street gurus made hundreds of billions of dollars in this scheme.

But this was just Stage 1 of their enormous scam. There was much more profit to be made in the next three stages!

Stage 2 is when the financial time bombs exploded. Commercial and investment banks around the world started collapsing in a matter of weeks. Governments at local and regional level saw their investments and assets evaporate. Chaos everywhere!

Vultures like Goldman Sachs and other big banks profited enormously in three ways: one, they could buy other banks such as Lehman brothers and Washington Mutual for pennies on the dollar. Second, more heinously, Goldman Sachs and insiders such as John Paulson (who recently donated $400 million to Harvard) had made bets that these securities would blow up. Paulson made billions, and the media celebrated his acumen. (For an analogy, imagine the terrorists betting on 9/11 and profiting from it.) Third, to scrub salt in the wound, the big banks demanded a bailout from the very citizens whose lives the bankers had ruined! Bankers have chutzpah. In the U.S., they got hundreds of billions of dollars from the taxpayers and trillions from the Federal Reserve Bank which is nothing but a front group for the bankers. In Greece, the domestic banks got more than$30 billion of bailout from the Greek people. Let that sink in for a moment - the supposedly irresponsible Greek government had to bail out the hardcore capitalist bankers.

Stage 3 is when the banks force the government to accept massive debts. For a biology metaphor, consider a virus or a bacteria. All of them have unique strategies to weaken the immune system of the host. One of the proven techniques used by the parasitic international bankers is to downgrade the bonds of a country. And that's exactly what the bankers did, starting at the end of 2009. This immediately makes the interest rates ("yields”) on the bonds go up, making it more and more expensive for the country to borrow money or even just roll over the existing bonds.

From 2009 to mid-2010, the yields on 10-year Greek bonds almost tripled! This cruel financial assault brought the Greek government to its knees, and the banksters won their first debt deal of a whopping 110 billion Euros.

The banks also control the politics of nations. In 2011, when the Greek prime minister refused to accept a second massive bailout, the banks forced him out of the office and immediately replaced him with the Vice President of ECB (European Central Bank)! No elections needed. Screw democracy. And what would this new guy do? Sign on the dotted line of every paperwork that the bankers bring in.

(By the way, the very next day, the exact same thing happened in Italy where the Prime Minister resigned, only to be replaced by a banker/economist puppet. Ten days later, Spain had a premature election where a banker puppet won the election).

The puppet masters had the best month ever in November 2011.

Few months later, in 2012, the exact bond market manipulation was used when the banksters turned up the Greek bonds' yields to 50%!!! This financial terrorism immediately had the desired effect: The Greek parliament agreed to a second massive bailout, even larger than the first one.

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Now, here is another fact that most people don't understand. The loans are not just simple loans like you would get from a credit card or a bank. These are loans come with very special strings attached that demand privatization of a country's assets. If you have seen Godfather III, you would remember Hyman Roth, the investor who was carving up Cuba among his friends. Replace Hyman Roth with Goldman Sachs or IMF (International Monetary Fund) or ECB, and you get the picture.

Stage 4: Now, the rape and humiliation of a nation begin under the name of "austerity” or "structural reforms.” For the debt that was forced upon it, Greece had to sell many of its profitable assets to oligarchs and international corporations. And privatizations are ruthless, involving everything and anything that is profitable. In Greece, privatization included water, electricity, post offices, airport services, national banks, telecommunication, port authorities (which is huge in a country that is a world leader in shipping) etc. Of course, the ever-manipulative bankers always demand immediate privatization of all media which means that the country gets photogenic TV anchors who spew establishment propaganda every day and tell the people that crooked and greedy banksters are saviors; and slavery under austerity is so much better than the alternative.

In addition to that, the banker tyrants also get to dictate every single line item in the government's budget. Want to cut military spending? NO! Want to raise tax on the oligarchs or big corporations? NO! Such micro-management is non-existent in any other creditor-debtor relationship.

So what happens after privatization and despotism under bankers? Of course, the government's revenue goes down and the debt increases further. How do you "fix” that? Of course, cut spending! Lay off public workers, cut minimum wage, cut pensions (same as our social security), cut public services, and raise taxes on things that would affect the 99% but not the 1%. For example, pension has been cut in half and sales tax increase to more than 20%. All these measures have resulted in Greece going through a financial calamity that is worse than the Great Depression of the U.S. in the 1930s.

After all this, what is the solution proposed by the heartless bankers? Higher taxes! More cuts to the pension! It takes a special kind of a psychopath to put a country through austerity, an economic holocaust.

If every Greek person had known the truth about austerity, they wouldn't have fallen for this. Same goes for Spain, Italy, Portugal, Ireland and other countries going through austerity. The sad aspect of all this is that these are not unique strategies. Since World War II, these predatory practices have been used countless times by the IMF and the World Bank in Latin America, Asia, and Africa.

This is the essence of the New World Order -- a world owned by a handful of corporations and banks; a world that is full of obedient, powerless debt serfs.

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## In Defence of Young Men

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Edited by Aideen Devine, Wednesday, 18 Aug 2021, 17:42

One of the items on the RTE News this week caught my eye (one of the advantages of living along the border, we get all the British and Irish Channels).

Apparently, there has been an increase in suicides among young men due to the economic situation here.  Figures showed that 38% of these young men were unemployed, while 32% worked in construction, which is the sector suffering most since the downturn.  I also read in the New Statesman, that suicide rates in Greece have gone up 40% since the austerity crisis.

The high suicide rate, relates to men and boys and a few years ago there was a European report which showed that the suicide rate, in this part of Ireland, was 73% per cent higher than anywhere else in Europe.  So, although the present economic situation is partly to blame at the moment, there are also other reasons why young men are suffering so much.

One of these I believe, is the level of violence aimed at young men.  I never knew how bad it was in this country for young men until I had some of my own.  Throughout their lives, from they were children until they were grown up, their primary experience of dealing with older men and boys was one of threat, violence, bullying and intimidation.  I remember having a conversation with my youngest son many years ago, when he was at secondary school, and he said to me, ‘Mum, you have no idea what it is like, every day, all you get is, I’m gonna fight you, I’m gonna get you.’

This level of threat has followed them right through their lives, from their teachers, to their peer group, to work colleagues.  I remember as a teenager, witnessing a teacher slapping a twelve year old boy on his hands with a leather strap that was a quarter of an inch thick, and feeling physically ill.  (I was in another classroom that overlooked his)  I have seen numerous acts of violence committed against young men throughout my life and so it was no surprise to me to read that young men under the age of twenty five were more likely to be victims of violence than any other group.

Here in the North, there is another more sinister side to this violence that comes from a self-appointed Republican paramilitary group RAAD, who are shooting and beating up young men for minor drug offences (the major drug dealers pay protection to other criminal groups, so they don’t get touched).  They think if they add Republican to their name, this gives them some sort of legitimacy within the Nationalist community.  We have had the extraordinary situation of parents bringing their sons to these people to be shot out of fear that if they didn’t, there would be worse done to the whole family.

There is also the cultural aspect to this, the macho culture that continually supports the ridiculous idea that males need to be toughened up.  A few weeks ago, I read a letter in the Observer newspaper from a doctor, (unfortunately the paper went to the recycling) who said that males were the weaker sex, that a premature child was more likely to die if it was male.  I was also speaking to a school principal who taught at a girls school for many years before becoming principal of a boys school.  She told me that there was a huge difference in them, and that girls were smarter, quicker and matured earlier, and that the boys were more naïve and took a lot longer to mature.  I have to say that concurs with my own experience of bringing up boys and girls.

The question I would like to pose is this – What if all this violence was being directed towards young girls?  What would we be doing then, society would be in uproar!  A friend of mine asked this question at a recent community meeting.  He works with, and counsels young men.  After the meeting, he was taken aside and told not to ask the question again by members of one of our ‘political parties’.

What kind of society have we created which accepts that young men are legitimate targets for violence, and do not deserve to be treated with the same gentleness and kindness as young women?  Why do boys have to be toughened up and made to repress their emotions.

There are also paradoxes to this here in Ireland, and that is in the way young males are ‘mammied’.  That is where their parents, whether through their own narcissism, or through some warped idea of their role as a parent, mollycoddle young men and do everything for them, indulging them all the time.  The outcome of this, is to leave a grown up boy who is incapable of caring for himself, who has never learned how to deal with issues in a mature fashion and who finds himself in adulthood, completely unprepared for and unable to cope with, the realities of life.

A boy is a human being, and as such, has the same emotional range as a girl.  He needs to be allowed to freely express his feelings as a child, in order to learn how to manage and control them so that they don’t overwhelm him then when faced with crises in adulthood.

The role of a parent is to prepare your child for life in the real world.  To spoil a child is about the worst thing you can do for them, and is not a sign of your love for them but a sign of your own emotional immaturity.  Most of us love our children and only want the best for them but spoiling a child is the laziest form of parenting because it requires no effort.  I watched Rabbi Shmuley Botech on Oprah a few years ago, and he drew a great analogy that has always stayed with me.  He said that if we thought about it in terms of meat, it would help us to see it more clearly, a piece of meat that is spoiled, is rotten, and no good to anybody.

This is exactly true of children, the worst people to deal with in life are those who have been spoiled because they expect everything their way, have no empathy for others and have an overbearing sense of their own importance, (the front bench of the Tory party is a fine example of this) and while your child may be important to you, the rest of the world is not so enamoured.

As a society. we need to re-think how we treat our children, boys and girls.  Our young men are in crisis and there are not enough grown-up men to help them negotiate their way into adulthood.  We all need to take a long hard look at ourselves as parents and human beings, because we are failing our children.  We try to impose cultural falsehoods on them about how they should act and behave with no regard for the human being that they are.  We allow these levels of violence against them to go unchecked and even believing it is for their own good.  Men will not stop being violent until they are brought up without violence, when it is seen as the evil it is and not as something all boys need.

So be kind to your sons and if you want to spoil your child, spoil them with your time and attention.  Make an effort and show them their true worth and how to value it.  The constant threat of violence only leads to more violence and inevitably plays out in the ultimate act of violence against the self, suicide. The job of parenting is probably the hardest job there is, you are responsible for preparing this other human being for life, it’s a profound role  and it requires effort but it has it’s own rewards when we see our children grow up into happy respectful people.

As a final thought I would like you to think about this, the Lakota word for child is Wakanyeja, it translates as ‘sacred being’.  Imagine what kind of world we could create if every child born was treated as a sacred being.

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## The Alternative Feminist

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Edited by Aideen Devine, Wednesday, 18 Aug 2021, 17:54

Austerity

(Contains strong opinions, she's angry today, you have been warned!!)

I am angry today, very, very angry, about bankers and the whole austerity package that has been dumped on everyone, everyone that is, EXCEPT bankers and tax-dodging millionaires and billionaires.

I watched the news during the week about Greece, and it really upset me to see people in such distress, and to hear how the suicide rate is soaring.  This part of Ireland had the dubious honour of the highest suicide rate in Europe at one time, and if you had to live here, believe me you would really understand why, but it's Greece and the banks we're on today, we'll get back to Ireland (North and South) another day.

What I don't understand about the whole austerity/economic crisis is this.

The bankers lent money recklessly, to people who couldn't really afford to be borrowing on the scale that they were allowed to, BY the banks.  Then the banks failed, and they were bailed out of the public purse. Now the 'public purse' is your tax money, which I am sure you all know because I'm sure anyone who reads this blog is intelligent, knowledgeable AND politically aware!!!!

So when they failed, we bailed them out, (by the way do you remember anyone asking you, if you wanted to bail them out, no, neither do I).  So the banks lost all the money, were given all our taxes to 'save' them and they still get to keep all the defaulted property.  And now, they are busy throwing people out of their homes, and taking back properties that rightly belong to us, THE TAXPAYER!!!!

And here's another thing, why are they not paying back the money they received in the bail out FROM THEIR PROFITS?  WE all have to pay our loans back so WHY DO THEY NOT HAVE TO?????  This is wrong morally, ethically, politically and logically.

So why is no-one else asking these questions, and challenging these bail outs?  Why are the left and the socialists not screaming from the rooftops????

I'll tell you why??  It's because the, so-called party of the left, sold it's soul under Tony Blair and dumped the working classes.  Tony Blair was no child of Labour, he was a Thatcherite, born and bred!!  And if you’re expecting Ed Milliband to do any better, then forget about it, because he really needs to grow a pair, and start standing up for something more than trying to out-soundbite bloody Cameron.  (Wasn’t it great to watch him squirming at Leveson this week???  The whole thing, to quote Baby Herman, ‘STINKS LIKE YESTERDAYS DIAPERS!!!’)

And how did this whole rotten mess begin, well it wasn’t with Gordon Brown as the Tory party would try and have you believe, it began with Thatcher.  She smashed the working class political power base, the Unions (I know they needed some reform but they have been annihilated, helped in no small measure by the whole rotten Murdoch media empire, and those other right-wing rags, you know of whom I speak), and then brought in the so-called Free Market Monetarist policies, which of course led to the opening up of the markets so we all could get rich, lifted all the banking controls and let the market take care of, AND regulate itself, and we all know how that turned out now, DON’T WE??!!!  Yes, because now we’re all rich and happy, aren’t we???  Oooops!

(Just on the subject of the Murdoch rags, it’s amazing how many ‘Irish Republicans’ buy The S** (it pains me to even mention it) and have the satellite dish up on the roof.  They are quite happy to contribute to the media empire of Maggie Thatcher’s old mate and staunch supporter, funny that, but politics is a funny old game, innit?)

Anyway, back to the bankers, and the spineless politicians who won’t stand up to big business, and do the job WE ARE PAYING THEM TO DO.  Remember that, AS LONG AS YOU ARE PAYING TAX, DAVID CAMERON IS YOUR EMPLOYEE, YOU PAY HIS SALARY, maybe, we all need to remind THEM of that.

So, what can we do about it all anyway,  Greece, the whole mess?  Well, here’s an idea, to help the Greeks, why don’t we give them the Olympics, to keep.  Instead of this faffing around the globe every fours years, let the games stay in Greece where they began.  I wonder do they have a copyright on them, or even if you can copyright them?? and give them back the Elgin Marbles while we’re at it.

And why should we?, (I can hear Thatcher’s children cry) well again, I will tell you why, because they are HUMAN BEINGS and they need help.  They didn’t cause this mess, just as most of you didn’t either, but they are paying for it, big time, and let’s be thankful, the REAL Labour men of the past who set up the Social safety net, (so despised by the Right and which Cameron and co.desperately want to get rid of) which just about, keeps us from being completely crushed by austerity.

And let’s start talking politics again, turn off that drivel, X Factor, Y Factor, who gives a crap factor, and lets start DEMANDING that OUR EMPLOYEES start governing this country for ALL the people in this country, and not just for their friends and cronies, and REMIND your Labour politicians of what their party used to stand for, before they were infiltrated by the Thatcherites, and REMIND yourself daily, (or at least monthly) of the working class struggles of the past, RE-DISCOVER the writings of ORWELL, (read Animal Farm and dare to challenge the myth that it doesn’t apply to capitalism) find out about PETERLOO, TOLPUDDLE, the CHARTISTS, teach your daughters about the SUFFRAGETTES: remember the Miners and the Liverpool dockers, and the UNIONS who used to fight for the working classes, and how and why they began.

And if you do all that, you can be sure that when the revolution comes, you'll definitely be on the right side.

And finally and MOST importantly, when you have done all that, put on  a black beret with a star on the front, and shout out loudly and clearly while punching the air -

POWER TO THE PEOPLE!!!!!

(And if you don't know what that means, make it your business to find out, or else, just ask someone who lived through the 70's!!)

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