The Blanket

The Oldest Profession

Eoghan O’Suilleabhain

During The Middle Ages, tens of thousands of people all across Europe were wiped out by the bubonic plague. Included in The Black Death toll were thousands of craftsmen whose decrease in population increased the labour value of the surviving craftsmen engendering powerful Medieval Guilds capable of negotiating far better monetary arrangements for their living members thus serving as a precursor of sorts for today’s Labour Unions.

The above paragraph is standard Chapter One reading in just about any Labour Economics or History textbook for the sole pedagogic purpose of driving home the irrefutable point about how wages or prices are determined by the market forces of supply and demand. That is, if demand for any goods or services exceeds their supply, then prices or wages will rise. Likewise, if the supply of any goods or services exceeds demand for same, then prices or wages will fall. The current Dublin housing market is a good real world example of this long tried and tested economic axiom: too few houses and apartments (i.e. supply) for the population that wants and needs to be served (i.e. demand) means prices and rents for same will rise as they have.

This is one of the major reasons why multi-national business corporations push for the making and enlarging of free trade zones. It gives them greater access to an ever larger supply of cheaper labour as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) did for US companies in Mexico and as the Treaty of Nice will do for the EU in Eastern Europe. Not surprisingly, much of the usual corporate sponsored politicians, academics and media pundits in the US denied this reality for the benefit of their pro-NAFTA business johns. It is like the oldest profession: politicians, professors and the press, like prostitutes, will say and do things for money that they would not otherwise say and do for free.

Enter Exhibit A: Dick Roche, current Irish Minister of State for European Affairs. Prior to that appointment he was the Minister of State at the Department of Taoiseach where he once upon a time was asked his views about the second running of the Treaty of Nice and he responded as follows: “It would be an affront to democracy.”

Now comfortably ensconced in his new position like a high priced call girl for European Affairs he lashes out today at the No to Nice camp with his very own guest editorial entitled “No Camp argument suffers fundamental flaws” (The Sunday Business Post, August 18, 2002, at page n24). In it Roche attacks Justin Barrett of the No to Nice campaign and Professor Anthony Coughlan of the National Platform for putting forward false assertions about Ireland’s position on the free movement of workers such as making “…baseless allegations about jobs and wage levels.”

Specifically, Roche claims: “Coughlan’s assertion that the influx of foreign workers will drive down wages in Ireland, because wages are determined in his words ‘by the law of supply and demand’ is nonsense. Even his own political allies have discredited the claim.” (emphasis added).

Notice big Dick didn’t say “his own economic allies” because that would have to include the entire Economics profession, or at least those Economists who aren’t in any way sponsored by Multi-National Corporate johns. And think about just how much money Big Business would have to pay an Economist anywhere to publicly mutter “Voila! Wages are not determined by the law of supply and demand.” For any Economist to say or write this would be professional suicide. They could never for instance work again as expert witnesses in legal cases because the cross examination of their proffered expert credentials would always go something like so:

Attorney: “So Professor Twatsky, you say you’ve been a
Professional Economist for the last 20 years, numerous
publications, research and teaching assignments, all well
and good, but tell me Sir, did you ever write or say that
wages in free market economies are not determined by the
law of supply and demand?”

Economist: “Yes.”

Attorney: “Oh, then what pray tell does determine wages or prices in
a free market economy if not the free market forces of
supply and demand?”

Economist: “Hominahominah.”

With all due respect to the late Jackie Gleason, but what else could such a compromised Economist say? Except for prostitution, politics & free market media punditry, once you sell your soul like that, you’re pretty much finished in most other professions. You become a laughing stock because you can no longer be credible in your allegations or assertions about reality, economic or otherwise. But pundits and politicians, like prostitutes, aren’t here on this Earth to describe reality for the rest of us. As The Baffler Magazine Editor Thomas Frank points out about the so called New Economy theory (capitalist ideologue) pundits who seem impervious to the usual consequences of error: “…generating an accurate picture of economic life really wasn’t their main function.” (The Guardian Weekend, August 17, 2002, at page 23) (Emphasis added).

Political propagandising was! Since: “Their trade was politics…New Economic theory was less an objective assessment of our situation than a world class hustle by a political movement that believed it was very close to winning the game. --- In such circumstances… objective wrongness doesn’t matter. Propaganda does. Money walks while bullshit just talks and talks and talks.” (Ibid, at page 24) (Emphasis added).

Although Thomas Frank was analysing political pundits in service to corporate power, the same analysis works when studying the behaviour and sayings of politicians in service to the same corporate powers. How else do you explain Dick Roche’s utter nonsense that wages aren’t determined by supply and demand? If only 1% of the 75 million or so people in the EU applicant states of Eastern Europe decided to come to Ireland (legally or illegally), that would mean finding housing, jobs or some kind of subsistence (dole or criminal) for 75,000 new people. If 2% came, then for 150,000 new people. And if 3% came, well, do the math.

Now you know why Fianna Fail Foreign Minister Brian Cowen waived Ireland’s right to restrict immigration from the 75 million citizens of candidate countries for a period of up to seven years. Cheaper labour moving west will depress existing wage structures here just as surely as dying craftsmen during The Middle Ages increased it. And the only way around this reality is to deny it like a liar for hire. No wonder IBEC supports enlargement and such things as “flexible labour markets” (i.e. weakened labour unions or none at all).

Cowen and Roche are both just manifestations of the same law of political gravity that says law follows politics and politics follows economics. They know who brought them and it wasn’t we. Hence their second referendum on the Treaty of Nice and all of our need to say no to it once again since it is imperative for the future of Ireland and other small nations. We simply cannot let their hustle win this game!

So please, if you feel the same way, contact among others the NO TO NICE CAMPAIGN at 60a Capel Street, Dublin 1. Telephone: (01) 874 - 6858. Fax: (01) 873 - 0464. Web: & Email:

And fight the power!






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If they give you ruled paper, write the other way..
- Juan Ramon Jimenez

Index: Current Articles

30 August 2002


Other Articles From This Issue:


Four Women Political Prisoners Die On Hunger Strike
Mags Glennon


A State In A Sectarian Society
Anthony McIntyre


Derry Homily
Brian Mór


The Violence of Curfew
Sam Bahour


Colombian Solidarity
Sean Smyth


The Oldest Profession
Eoghan O’Suilleabhain


25 August 2002


Compassionate Parole
Marian Price


Culture of Hate?
Billy Mitchell


An Agenda Less Hidden
Davy Carlin


The Rioting Police
Anthony McIntyre


Still Life of Sorts
Brian Mór


No Surrender!
Brian Mór


Not An Inch!
Brian Mór


The Adventures of Super Stake Knife
Brian Mór




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