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Irish Lawmakers Back $8 Billion Budget, Added Austerity Measures, in First Votes

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Ireland's lawmakers yesterday approved Irish Finance Minister Brian Lenihan's proposed $8 billion budget in the first of as many as three votes on the proposal. Ireland's government is under severe strain and coming under pressure from the European Union to pass a budget with new austerity measures to secure an 85 billion-euro bailout.

Under the proposed budget, Ireland's fourth since 2008, additional "austerity measures" (the globally accepted government term for "screwing the people") totaling 14 billion euros will be put into effect. Among austerity measures is a government worker salary cut of 10,000 euros, a tax on Internet gambling and a reduction in child benefit payments. According to Bloomberg, a married couple with two children earning a combined income of 92,000 euros will lose 4% percent of their income.

But that's the good news. Lenihen called the financial collapse in Ireland "the worst crisis in our history." Now that's really saying something. The Great Famine between 1845 and 1852 saw the population in Ireland fall by approximately 25 percent. Almost one million people died and a million more emigrated. We'll not even go into some of the more recent political crises in Ireland.

But back to Lenihan's "worst crisis." Peter Dixon, an economist at Commerzbank in London, told Bloomberg, "Since Ireland's real problem is one of excessive bank debt, and is a sovereign problem only in so far as the government has guaranteed the banks, tightening the squeeze on the electorate will not resolve the underlying issues." Indeed.

Worst crisis in history? It's likely Lenihan and Ireland's government have yet to see the half of it.

Green Piece
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