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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: April 7, 2011 @ 12:29 pm

    An Idea that is Getting Traction

    Deaglán de Bréadún

    Referendum on the bail-out is an idea that appears to be getting traction. Seems the United Left Alliance is divided on it: Joe Higgins unenthusiastic, Richard Boyd Barrett very keen, as are  some of the right-0f-centre independents such as Shane Ross. But can the mass of the people understand an issue as complex as this?

    • robespierre says:

      No they can’t fully understand it but if there is a referendum you can be fairly sure it won’t be fought on the facts.

      I don’t see how or why the government should accede to one. I think Joe Higgins’ reluctance betrays his greater experience. Teachers and nurses won’t thank RBB for creating a situation where the funding of the state is made impossible and the country goes from being in the red to completely insolvent.

      If Ireland rejected the bailout terms it would have serious knock-on consqeuences for the country. The realpolitik is that Ireland is only functioning at the grace of others. We should relinquish the petulant and childish remonstrations and start to dig our way out of this.

      Some of the decisions made on the banks were terrible, the blanket guarantee was a disaster but it has been done and we have to deal with the pact made in our name with the EU and IMF.

      It was through using referendums like this that some very dangerous people came to power in the past.

    • Haymoon says:

      This seems like an attractive idea and there is probably no doubt that the vote would be a rejection of the bailout. Despite the totally inequitable nature of the present situation a default would be cutting off our nose to spite our face. We are but a sore boil on the backside of Europe and a lancing would find us covered in some unpleasant stuff it could take forever to remove.

    • part time punk says:

      Could the “mass of people” understand the Lisbon/Nice Treaties etc.? Probably not but we still had referendums on them. Very patronising argument against having a referendum on this issue as the simple plebs won’t understand. Do our politicians and journalists all fully understand these issues? Of course they don’t either.

    • Liam O'Mahony says:

      While it is true that the vast majority of voters are too ignorant of the various parameters around the ‘bailout’ to vote advisedly on the issue it should be possible for a list of ‘qualified’ statements on the matter to be published as follows: Academics (economists), competent politicians (with adequate qualifications / experience / proven record), top civil servants, economics journalists, etc. If such statements were set out in tabular format, limited to say 500 words, it should be easy enough for almost anyone of reasonable intelligence to read such statements and come to their own conclusion. Since it is their money, taxpayers must surely have the right to have their say.

    • Bellinx says:

      Deaglán, I think the “mass of the people” could be awarded Honorary Doctorates of Economics at this stage, given the media’s constant obsession with informing the “mass of the people” on all things economic via the incessant commentary of ‘celebrity’ and other economists. However, if there were to be a referendum on the bailout, the “mass of the people”, in my opinion and to our detriment would behave (vote) irrationally – since the “mass of the people” is getting tetchier and tetchier on account of hardship – which hardship, so-called, when compared to the Great Famine/Hunger of 1844-89, might be a tad exaggerated. On the other hand, I can’t quite see the “mass of the people” or even a significant small number supporting the eccentricities of this rookie deputy with the hyphenated double-barrelled surname…

    • It is worth remembering that the referendum in Iceland which gets referenced so often by many of those support such a vote here took place against the backdrop of the deal they were voting on having been ditched by their government and was superseded by another deal that they didn’t get to vote on. Oh and Iceland’s economy is still screwed.

    • @3: If the mass of the people were asked to vote on capital punishment, it is highly likely it would be brought back.

    • Desmond FitzGerald says:

      Why don’t the likes of Mr Higgins, Mr Boyd-Barrett and Mr Ross explain to us who exactly these bondholders are that they want to burn and how much is involved – is it 5 billion or 15 billion and if we burn them how will it affect the bail out rate of interest and does it make any difference? As far as I’m aware the bondholders includes, not only Citi or HSBC and Goldmans and MS and others but also the likes of Hibernian and Aviva and Standard Life and Irish Life Pensions etc, so when they are told they are to make a loss, having been told they wouldn’t have to and having lost the chance to minimise their loss in Sept 2008, I’d like the burners to explain what they intend to do when the above firms announce lower annuity rates and reduce their terminal bonus rates to make up the loss they have to suffer as a result of being ‘burned’.

      We can burn all we want and it won’t make a jot of different to the current deficit or create a single new job.

      It’s as silly as someone smashing their ex’s car or ripping up clothes – I’m sure it feels fantastic at the time and then a few hours later the same old misery returns.

      If we stabilise the economy, it can start to grow again and each new job created will save more money by lower costs and higher income, than burning any number of bondholders. There are about 200,000 SMEs in Ireland and if each one was able to create one full time permanent pensionable job – just think of the difference that would make in every sense to the state and the people who get jobs and their families.

      Then with a 0% deficit the massive debt can be turned into a mortgage and paid off over 20 years because we are starting from a far higher base than we were in 1987.

    • Nina Ogden says:

      Even though the motion for referendum failed in the Dail, it IS getting traction, in Ireland and internationally. Very soon legislation will be tabled in the US Congress to reinstate the sucessful 1933 to 1999 Glass-Steagall law.The law separated commercial banking from high risk, gambling debt, investment banking. If gamblers wanted to take their “risks”, they could not be bailed out by the taxpayer. This principlle is being discussed in countries throughout the world. The EU and ECFB iare actually bankrupt, as are the Inter Alpha group of banks dominating the Eurozone. The MOST responsible action is separating sovereign debt, from this gambling debt. YES to referendum !

    • This is very simple – if the ‘mass of the people’ cannot understand this issue, then they should not be called upon this, or any other issue.

      It’s a simple point of democracy – if the people can’t be trusted with this, then why should they be trusted with Lisbon, divorce, abortion, or elections at all.

      Asking if the people are smart enough to understand this issue, or any other issue, belies an attitude at best patronising, and at worst dictatorial.

      The republic is never wrong!

    • doug de vos says:

      Good for little Iceland, placing the blame & the cost squarely where it should lie! Now, how about little Ireland? & maybe little Greece & little Portugal?
      Revolutions don’t always mean guns & bombs! (Take note, certain of our brethren!)

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