In the midst of Ireland’s current economic travails, the work of Raymond Crotty, a farmer and Trinity College economics lecturer who dissented from the popular enthusiasm for joining the Europen Union back in the 1970s now stands out.
Raymond Crotyy was an Irishman whose life was a real example of the moral imperative .
"Our Enemy the State", so said Raymond, in 1988 in his book "A Radical's Response".
In this treatise Mr. Crotty, former farmer and economics lecturer at Trinity College, tried to explain how Ireland was being exploited by its domestic political groupings.
He insisted that all important Euroepan Union changes be passed through a referendum of the people first.
Through his efforts the constitution was correctly used to try to protect the Irish people from what he saw as abuse of privilege by an immoral political class. This class, he believed, was using the resources of the Irish people for their own selfish benefit. In order to take his high court action to protect the constitution and safe-guard the right to a free ballot on fundamental legal changes he pledged, as security, the title of his own family home.
In fact he and his wife faced possible bankruptcy in the event of failure on the legal front. What would Mr. Crotty be advising us now about possible solutions to the predicament Ireland now faces? I will use some quotes below to try to give you some inkling of a possible answer to that conundrum.
Writing in 1986 in the midst of a deep recession he stated : "Sixty years on (1986), the Irish economy is back again to a position similar to that of 1922, immediately after the break with Britain…….Joining the EEC seemed, in 1972, the answer to 50 years of failed self-government. Fifteen years of membership of a Community comprising all the former colonial powers has done nothing to alleviate, but much to aggravate the problems of Ireland……This happened also with the earlier Union with Britain, which brought untold hardship on the Irish masses, while, as intended, securing the position of the elites who engineered the Union.
The new EEC Union likewise has resulted in wholesale loss of jobs, a quadrupling of unemployment and an increasing extreme dependence on subsidies from, and credit through, the EEC."
Thus we can see that all though much has changed since 1986, unfortunately most remains the same in 2010.
Ireland is now lurching toward financial ruin because of insolvent banks, fully state guaranteed international bondholders, high inflation due to a bloated and inefficient bureaucracy that produces no goods, reckless public sector borrowing, an unquantified off-balance-sheet derivative time-bomb, collapsing cash and credit circulation, insolvent businesses and an incompetent government executive.
We are being lied to with regard to the true nature and extent of Ireland’s financial afflictions. Many would say that it is the international financial crisis that caused the problem however, I believe, it is the failure of our political class to ethically regulate itself and effectively manage that is the true source of the current mayhem. This class is working closely with a golden circle to bail itself out yet will now leave a "bill of costs" which will cripple the Irish public finances for decades.
This class has sold out the country to a European Banking elite that forces itself into every aspect of out lives to the detriment of real freedom. The ongoing erosion of our liberty is clothed in a veneer of "greater good" but the effect is social atrophy.
As Crotty predicted, the state is no longer the friend but the enemy of the average Irish citizen. This situation was always the case in mainland Europe and throughout the British Empire. Constitutions were thus developed by revolutionaries, such as DeValera, to tame the power of the state.
This lesson of history has been forgotten by the "new" Irish and they have now sold their children's birthright to elites but the Irish people are not to blame because they have been hoodwinked by a privileged social grouping that protects its dynastic power while ignoring the horrific social implications of their drastic austerity measures. In other words they have the income and the assets whilst we and our children will be left to carry the debt.
Ray Crotty knew in 1986 that borrowing would end in disaster for Ireland, and we currently who are socially conscious, are now experiencing a human tragedy unfolding daily as it did so in 1985. It was not called the “lost decade” for nothing. However, in 2010 it is much worse because in addition to unbridled public borrowing there is private debt of nearly half a trillion Euros. Thus this time the burden is doubly crippling particularly when you factor in an Irish cost of living which is now nearly 50% higher than that in mainland Europe. This fact can be readily verified during any short holiday trip to Spain or Portugal or Germany.
But Mr. Crotty did not leave it there, he used his considerable economic intellect to propound a way forward, an analysis which we know all too well was never followed. His solution could be applied even now, if only we found the will and the determination. In 1986 His formula for economic and moral salvation ran as follows:
"It is not difficult to identify the nature of the change that is necessary to transform Irish undevelopment into development. It involves essentially eliminating banking privilege. In Ireland producers are charged too little for land and capital and too much for labour.
...All taxes should be removed from labour (PAYE & PRSI) and the things that labour buys (VAT). Tax revenue from land and from the financial system (Banks, Insurance Companies and Building Societies) should be maximized. In addition, in order to save revenue and to preclude further borrowing by corrupt and corrupting politicians, the public (and banking debt should be renegotiated or) repudiated …..The proposed fiscal changes would transform Ireland's undeveloping economy into a developing one. The state is the enemy of the nation and has been the cause of its undevelopment this point the Irish people must comprehend. But even as the nation has been undeveloped by the state's actions, the people have looked more and more to the state to remedy the situation."
In 2010 The Irish people somehow must start rejecting the local/international banking system now robbing the national coffers. Raymond Crotty cries out from the past.
He was not listened to then and we are paying the consequences. This moral Irishman correctly analysed Ireland economic problems and history has shown this analysis to be correct. It is not too late for Ireland to start again but we need this time to take the right road and choose true national development not financial bondage. In other words borrowing in not the answer, productive commercial enterprise is.
And the benefits of this enterprise must flow, as a moral right, to the average hard working lower and middle class citizen not financial elites regardless of whether they are of the home-grown or international variety. This time let us finally listen and take the right road of hard work, honour and duty not a phantom dream of lottery wins, quick rich schemes and reckless speculation. Yes we are in a difficult situation but let us take the hard choices that lead to real change not cosmetic alteration.
As Oscar Wilde, once famously quipped:
“Yes we are all in the gutter but let us chose to look up to the stars.”