Irish emigration soars as Celtic Tiger's cubs hunt for jobs … The number of people leaving the Republic has swelled far beyond those of every other country in the European Union, says research. An estimated 40,000 people emigrated last year, according to the EU's statistics office, Eurostat, a rate almost twice as high as that of Lithuania, the next most affected country. It is expected the flow may worsen as the Republic faces years of severe financial difficulties. A research institute has warned that 200,000 people, in a country of 4.5 million, may be forced to emigrate by 2015 if job opportunities do not improve. – Belfast Telegraph
Dominant Social Theme: A sad ending to a notable economic resurgence.
Free-Market Analysis: Did the aggregate Irish populace see this coming? It was not so long ago that the Irish voted twice to provide the EU with additional powers that EU leaders had hoped to achieve via the passage of a constitution. When the French along with a few other countries voted against the constitution, Euro-crats repackaged it as a "treaty" and avoided the electorate altogether except in Ireland.
What was the dominant social theme? Perhaps it was that the EU itself was such a monumental step forward for those who live in Europe, that those who didn't see it simply couldn't be allowed to stand in the way of the progress that the EU offered to all. Of course, these days, that progress is less easy to discern and the Irish themselves have woken up to the downside of the EU and many have apparently made the decision to leave it. Since at this point, Ireland cannot formally leave the EU, people themselves are taking "human action" and leaving on their own. They are emigrating.
Remember the big to-do? The Irish voted against the Lisbon Treaty and suddenly the forward momentum of the EU was halted. It looked as if it really might fall back toward being something along the lines of what had been promised initially, a free-trade zone and not an empire-in-waiting. Alas, it was not to be. Amazingly, the Treaty was sent back to the Irish for a second vote.
There was no real rationale for a second vote. It was simply determined that the Irish had voted wrongly the first time. And with the economy collapsing around their heads, the Irish were told to vote again and that a pro-EU was both expected and necessary. The Irish political elite threw its entire weight behind the Treaty and the poor Irish were virtually bombarded with pro-EU propaganda and sudden (ephemeral) surges of cash. Eventually, the Irish ratified the treaty, which put it into effect for the whole of Europe.
Was it the correct decision? Post-crisis reporting tends to indicate that EU powers have been used to further empower wealthy EU banks while generating severe "austerity" measures for much of Europe. And what have the Irish gotten out of it? Well, this nation of nearly five million was heralded as the Celtic Tiger throughout the 2000s. EU money flowed freely into Ireland and a real-estate boom fueled the economy. But when the financial crisis became severe, the Irish economy collapsed along with the rest of Southern European prosperity. Here is a fairly good summary of where the Irish are at now from the alternative Internet-based news organization Spiked Online:
After two decades of rapid but uneven growth, the country's economy crashed and burned along with the rest of the world following the credit crisis. The result has been one of the harshest austerity programmes in Europe. Public spending has been slashed, tax has risen, the banks have been bailed-out, and a controversial 'bad bank' scheme – the National Asset Management Agency (Nama) – was created to buy delinquent property debts from the country's financial institutions. All of this has been done in order to prove the county is a 'good financial citizen'. Seemingly the plan is working. Accountancy firm Ernst and Young has announced that the citizens of Ireland are about to enjoy a recovery. The snag is, it will be 'jobless'. Just what is a jobless recovery, you ask? The answer is simple: a decade of pain.
In the wake of the collapse, several factors have become clearer. First of all, it is fairly obvious that the EU was basically bribing European countries to join the EU. Most EU countries were not in fact economically viable if strict EU budgetary rules were to be met. Thus it was that EU leaders began to offer additional monies, often in the billions, to the various governments for purposes of building up prosperity and paying down debts.
The political and business elites of the various countries were delighted to take the money, which probably (human nature being what it is) went straight-away into various pockets. In return, the elites "cooked" the books, showing the EU what it wanted to see – that progress was being made and that various economies were growing both less profligate and more profitable. In reality, nothing had changed. The countries were as ill-run and corrupt as ever, but with the misleading statistics in place, the EU could welcome in another state.
The cynical calculation was that the EU could manage any fallout from the false-pretenses under which these countries were joining. When a downturn came, as one would inevitably come, those running the EU from behind the scenes were confident that the emergency itself would yield a solution. From chaos comes order, etc. The only problem with this remedy was that it didn't anticipate the severity of the downturn or the anger of citizens who woke to find their countries basically bankrupt and their options, under the new EU charter fairly limited.
This is where the Irish are today. As Spiked puts it, "Amid all the uncertainty facing the Irish public, two things are certain: a jobless recovery is no recovery at all and political leadership, from any quarter, is entirely absent."
The money from the EU is long gone, vanished into the Irish ruling class' pockets, just as similar money has enriched the ruling classes of Portugal, Spain, Greece, Italy, etc. The Irish themselves enjoyed some prosperity in the 2000s thanks to the general boom but now the banks are bust, real estate continues its decline and even tourism is down despite the falling euro.
The EU was foisted on Europe as a kind of subterfuge. At almost every stage, EU power and influence has been gained without truthfulness as to what the Brussels socialists actually have in mind. The EU was supposed to be a free-trade zone, but over time it has become obvious that Euro-crats have planned all along to turn "Europe" into a nation of 500 million strong – whether or not those millions wanted such a vast state.
So many promises were made. The reality was that the many states of Europe would be able to compete more powerfully if they were homogenized. In truth this is a hollow argument. Countries like Switzerland and even tiny Monaco can compete in a large and unruly world by finding niches. The market itself will determine the industrial strategies – and people not nations will provide the creativity and industry to fill them. The idea that one must be part of a kind of political conglomerate to survive is not only incorrect but horribly damaging.
Certainly, the promise of the EU has not turned out well for the Irish who, only a year after their monumental vote to give the EU more power, are turning their collective backs on their own country. So many promises were made to the Irish, among other states, to ensure that a commitment to the EU was firmly entrenched prior to the expected downturn. Now that wealth has turned to dross, anger engulfs the PIGS, the countries that line the EU's Southern flank. Greece is aflame with anger and the mood is not much more pleasant in Spain, Portugal, etc.
In Ireland, there have been some protests but leadership is seen as so compromised and corrupt that little in terms of genuine direction has emerged – either from the political class or the public sector. Young Irish have thus begun to do what the Irish have done in the past: Emigrate. Rather than live through a decade of "austerity," they are leaving the erstwhile "Celtic Tiger," which remains tightly bound to the EU, an increasingly ineffective and corrupt colossus.
The Irish have foregone protest for the moment; youth is simply voting with its feet. But reports have it that the governing Fianna Fail party, which led the charge for the Lisbon Treaty ratification, will soon be toppled. Of course this is cold comfort. As Spiked points out: "Elite opinion, whether represented by the governing Fianna Fail and Green parties or the opposition Fine Gael and Labour … does operate within an indescribably narrow ideological framework. In Ireland, there really is no alternative."
If the crisis persists, we would wonder if a wave of real political change will begin to sweep over Europe, one focused on a growing discontent with the EU itself. Of course, with the Lisbon Treaty in force, it would seem the die has been cast: the EU's power grows despite the swelling disaffection. It clings to life despite the corruption and increased despotism blighting the countries that have tied themselves to its prospects – reducing the fortunes of those who have joined. Can it yet end well?