In December of last year I wrote an article called “The cost of the bail out – Just your Democracy.” In it I referenced an IMF document called “Lifting Euro Area Growth: Priorities for Structural Reforms and Governance.” What prompted me to look at that IMF publication was the injudicious way the IMF publicly told Portugal that it should cut its unemployment payouts.
The document in question, I argued, was nothing short of the IMF’s blue-print for how to ensure the public in every country were forced to bear austerity measures in order to pay off their bankers’ debts. The paper detailed how collective wage bargaining had to be curtailed, wages lowered and laws over hiring and firing made more business friendly. It laid out how taxes should be moved from labour to consumption which is disguised way of saying shift taxes from graduated income taxes to flat rate VAT – shifting from high earners and businesses to ordinary consumers. And last and most fundamentally, how these ‘essentail reforms’ could only be achieved if decision about them were removed from democratic control. Leaving such decisions too near to the electorate and their representatives was why they had not happened yet.
The document, I felt, was a thinly disguised argument for elevating finance above democracy – a direct attack on sovereignty and democracy. At the time all I could point to were the unfolding events in Ireland – the way the IMF with the EU’s support was throwing its weight around in Dublin.
The IMF has been busy since then.
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