Things can only get better

Don’t know about you, but to me it’s a bit of a relief that the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank are here to get a grip on our finances.

We have been drifting along for the past three years, hoping we could ease our way through a crisis of our own making. Leadership, vision, transparency have all been woefully missing.

We spent like fools, believing the good times would never end. We awarded ourselves bigger wages increases that the Germans, our civil service grew out of proportion to the work to be performed and when the writing was on the wall someone came up with the Croke Park agreement. That was but the latest manifestation of the sense of denial our ruling politicians indulged in.

Our political system has failed us. We have returned the same people to power for far too long. And we let have let them get away with it, election after election. If you want to keep a football team keen and competitive you keep changing things around, freshening the side up, changing the captain: you build up experience. We have been poor selectors.

We even put up with our leaders telling concerned economists to go take a jump when it was obvious that the building boom was heading for a bubble that could only burst with a bang. Instead of reining in on excessive spending, the witlessness of the cappuccino and prada society, and spending on foreign and local property investments, on SUVs and other shows of vulgarity,  the message was ‘spend, spend, spend’,

You know what I find really funny, though: this loss of something called ‘sovereignty’. Fact is, since we started looking after our own affairs in 1922 we have not been exactly bright in how we have done things.

We continued to export our people, in the 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s – and they provided the bailout we needed to waddle along. Our exiles sent back billions over all those years to keep the hearths lit in Irish towns and villages. They were the IMF and the European Bank all rolled into one. They kept us going when our so-called leaders didn’t have the wit to be creative, imaginative, and enterprising. No, they were more noted for saying something nonsensical like ‘emigration is a useful safety valve’!

In time historians will look back on the first 90 years of Ireland running its own affairs and judge the period much more critically than has been done to date. We went from poverty to vulgar excessiveness to bust in that period, with very few politicians emerging with any great credit.

Can we survive this latest crisis?  Of course we can. The Irish are resilient. We have survived foreign occupation, pestilence, wars, famine and a failed and sometimes corrupt political class. Compared to that the IMF will look like an honest Fairy God Mother.

However, we must use the time in the rebuilding process to cut out the terrible waste, to get rid of the Seanad, to whittle the Dail down to 100 members, to crack down on our social welfare cheats and abusers, our irresponsible bankers and those paid to keep an eye on things, and to bring to heel an emerging Black Economy so easily identified by the mushrooming number of tradesmen’s vans which no longer carry names or logos, or telephone numbers. Go count them! And from now on vote wisely; elect Government for one term and then vote them out, and keep that going until such time as none of them can take us for granted any more.

That is your power…that is your guarantee that we can build government to serve the people sensibly rather than serve themselves.

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