If we close our eyes will we know we have left the EU?

I visited Northern Ireland numerous times in the 1960’s most notably perhaps was a School Civics trip from my Dublin school (St Paul’s Raheney) to Stormont in early May 1968. We were sponsored by Gerry Fitt (the then leader of the SDLP) who showed us around and I remember meeting Ian Paisley who was really charming and gracious, in total contrast to the firebrand image he portrayed on Television. I can’t say I remember any of the debate, but we had some time in Belfast city centre. The overall impression was extremely positive. The roads were vastly better than in the Republic which was immediately apparent when we crossed the border. Indeed at the time the roads in the Republic were largely maintained at a county level. My maternal grandfather from Tipperary used to tease my grandmother, from Limerick, and ask her to close her eyes and guess when the county border was crossed – at the time the roads in Tipperary were much better; they lived in Galbally on the county border.  I saw my first ever colour television set, and even better, I was able to stock upon Opal Fruits (Starburst), which were unavailable in the Republic due to the strict protectionism of the local confectionery industry. (I tried them last week when I was again in Belfast but they were not the same!) I also thought the Belfast trolley buses were very exciting, it was the second largest system in the UK after London at the time. (The entire trolley bus system was closed just a week or so after my visit; there was a craze in both Britain and Ireland at the time for ripping out old transport systems in the name of modernity, which in retrospect seems vandalous.) Belfast City Hall was also very impressive and Belfast in general seemed a lot more prosperous than Dublin.

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The Litany and Lure of the Lease

The appalling scandal of newly built houses being sold as leasehold by Britain’s six biggest housebuilders (and where the ground rent can double every 10 years – just because they can) is by now well documented. In fact leasehold properties are now thought to make up over 40% of all new homes.

This is rent extraction at its worst – often just plain extortion.

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BoM May 2017

Our May 2017 Book of the Month  is Richard Murphy’s “Dirty Secrets”. What happens when the rich are allowed to hide their money in tax havens, and what we should do about it?
The revelations from the Panama Papers show unknown levels of secret money: how the super-rich hide their wealth from the rest of us.“Dirty Secrets” uncovers the extent of the corruption behind this crisis and exposes the failures of those in power to control this rampant greed.
Tax havens are part of the global architecture of capitalism. It is claimed that they provided the freedom from regulation that was necessary to really make markets work and so we all actually gained from them. In this sense they are the ultimate expression of neoliberalism. But this argument and that philosophy has now failed. Furthermore democracy itself is being threatened by the political fall-out from the mistrust this regime has created. The result is that tax havens are now a threat to the very system that supposedly spawned it. “Dirty Secrets” is the most revelatory examination of the crisis by a leading expert, but also offers solutions on how governments can regulate havens and what the world might look like without them.

Progressing away from the Job Guarantee

I’ve followed Neil Wilson‘s  blog on and off for some time.  He is radical and interesting and, like me is not an economist! But I cannot agree with him on the Job Guarantee. He sings the praises of the transformative properties of the Job Guarantee and says it would help to ensure jobs are available everywhere. And that a job gives people a sense of worth and social contact that helps to bind the community. So far so good.

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Brexit P1, The State of the Nation 2016

Introduction

I’ve studied and worked  in a number of countries including the Federal Republic of Germany,  the Republic of Ireland and Switzerland. In Germany referenda are banned at federal level under the 1949 Constitution. They had been used very effectively in the 1930s by Hitler and the NAZI party to subvert democracy. Right-wing populist, nationalistic and racist arguments can  be very persuasive and not just in Germany. My father, Kevin Danaher, studied for his PhD from 1937 to July 1939 at the Universities of Berlin and Leipzig. He saw this first hand and was able to attend the 1938 Nuremberg Rally. He was both fascinated and frightened by the power Hitler had over the crowd; a sort of mass hypnotism. He said that you could bump into Hermann Göring most nights on the Kurfürstendamm in Berlin after drinking with his Nazi cronies at 2:00 am and that he had exchanged pleasantries with him on a number of occasions (safest to be courteous). He left Germany in July 1939 without completing his PhD.

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