Disillusioned and Angry: a post about politics and the economy

What follows is a little different from my usual line.

I used to think it was possible to have ambitions. I used to think the ambition of having a steady job – permanent and pensionable – that paid a living wage and left time over for enjoying life was a modest ambition. Maybe not achievable by everyone,* but for someone with my advantages, my – not to be falsely modest – intelligence, and ability to fake middle-class socialisation, something I shouldn’t worry too much about not achieving.

Today I saw this item in the paper. “Wanted: PhD grad to work for jobseekers’ benefit + E50.”

Two different companies have advertised internships as part of the Government’s JobBridge initiative — but want only highly qualified staff.

A pharmaceutical plant in Cork is seeking applications under the back-to-work scheme and a PhD in synthetic organic chemistry is considered to be a “base requirement”.

A spokesman from Hovione said there “hasn’t been that much interest” in the role.

However, another pharmaceutical plant in west Dublin, Clarochem, had a similar requirement for a PhD intern and has just filled the role for a full 39-hour-week programme for six months.

Clarochem Ireland, a custom manufacturing plant in Mulhuddart, asked that applicants held a minimum of a PhD in synthetic chemistry, and were capable of working on solo projects in a dynamic environment.

The oligarchy has won. There is no future for any of us not born to unmortgaged assets in this country – and maybe not in any other, either. Finance Minister Michael Noonan goes to Brussels to get his plaque with “Best European Finance Minister” engraved on it for licking the boots of unelected European eminences, for selling the poor of the Republic down the river and the middle-class after them, in service to the interests of global capital.

The European project is a humanitarian and democratic – and on any measure other than that of global capital’s, an economic – failure, but we’re still shackled to the corpse of all its fine promises. Our budgets will go to Brussels to be amended and approved by unelected, unaccountable men and women – carrion-feeders who will continue to demand the privatisation of state assets and state bodies (assets and bodies that by right and justice belong to the people of Ireland!) and to whose dictates our spineless, treacherous, two-faced “leaders” will cravenly bow.

The Irish government will not be able to reclaim the assets it has sold at a loss to corporate interests – corporate interests that will use them to make a profit at the expense of Irish residents. Nor will our government easily recover the powers it has so cravenly surrendered.

They call this a recovery. Who has recovered?

Who was responsible for this catastrophe in the first place? Who has benefited from it?

Not the people struggling to keep a roof over their heads. Not the people seeing their real wages – if they’re employed at all – go down, and the cost of food and accommodation go up. Unemployment remains above 13%. Three hundred and thirty thousand people are out of work. (That is at least 7% of our total population, for comparison purposes: 13% of people between age 18 and 65 are signed on for benefits, which approximates to 7% of all the people of any age normally resident in this country.)

And, let’s reiterate: the people who are in work have seen their take-home pay decrease under the burden of wage-cuts and changes in their tax and PRSI assessment. That particular trend isn’t about to reverse itself.

Conclusion? The average person at work, or looking for work, in the country is comprehensively screwed.

Barring a sustained revolutionary change in the relationship between the citizenry and our government, between the nation and the European Union and the IMF – and going forward in an age of ever-increasing automation, in how we conceive of the relationship between people, labour, and capital – we’re permanently screwed.

Because under the conditions presently obtaining and likely to remain in place, there will never be enough actual work to provide full employment at non-poverty-level standards of living. So we need to change how we think about the relationship between labour and money, between people and capital – and that is a change far more revolutionary than demanding democratic accountability from the Oireachtas and the EU.

*Which is another story, and a shame and a half.