Irish public to rescue its bankers - why?

At what point, I wonder, will the penny drop? The rest of Europe is looking on with incredulity as the average Irish citizen - instead of protesting - just shrugs.

There have been no shattering public protests, no riots, just - for the most part - sad acceptance. So far.

Why? Why are they going so quietly?

Today, in The New York Times, economist Paul Krugman writes that Ireland's bailout seems to be mostly about the government imposing even more pain on its people, in exchange for a credit line. "But it’s a strategy that isn't working," he says simply

"Before the bank bust," Krugman writes, "Ireland had little public debt. But with taxpayers suddenly on the hook for gigantic bank losses, even as revenues plunged, the nation’s creditworthiness was put in doubt. So Ireland tried to reassure the markets with a harsh program of spending cuts."

"Step back for a minute and think about that. These debts were incurred, not to pay for public programs, but by private wheeler-dealers seeking nothing but their own profit. Yet ordinary Irish citizens are now bearing the burden of those debts."

These so called confidence building measures have not built confidence. In fact all the economic austerity is depressing the Irish economy, and investors are now fleeing. So why are we taking the pain?

"Ireland is now in its third year of austerity, and confidence just keeps draining away," writes Krugman, who invokes the savage indignation of Irish writer Jonathan Swift to make this point. "And you have to wonder what it will take for serious people to realize that punishing the populace for the bankers’ sins is worse than a crime; it’s a mistake."


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