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Thursday, September 16, 2010

In Vino Veritas

Until the last few days Fianna Fail and the Greens have been telling us how the wider world understands what the government is doing to tackle the economic slump that they brought upon us much better than the rest of us who merely inhabit this great little country. Eamon Ryan frequently tells us that if Anglo Irish Bank couldn’t stay business then, every other bank would suffer a credibility problem and they entire financial system in the country would collapse with job losses the inevitable result.

That was until last week. Now we know that Anglo Irish will never give out so much as another cent in loans. There’s been no run on any financial institution ,indeed Brian Lenihan has been turning up on RTE’s “Freefall” effectively portraying himself as a detached observer in the entire fiasco while his immediate predecessor Brian Cowen and their buddy “President Bertie” seemed in denial about the roles they played in collapsing the economy.

To further sink national morale it now seems that the Taoiseach Brian Cowen had more of a drink in than a think in with his party in the west this week. I find it amazing that the night before a major interview that he spent it on the lash and could hardly speak the following morning, sounded confused and rambling on key issues such as the Croke Park agreement, legislation on corporate donations and the future intentions on electing Dublin’s Mayor as well as the timing of 3 key by-elections.

The FF spin that government hands are tied on key issues and that the greens were getting their agenda was blown out of the water. The real reason why there is a constant drift is lack of leadership. There is a real feel of decay in the corridors of power, Last week it was the barmy idea that charging holders of ATM cards to withdraw their own money would deter Tiger kidnappings. This week the Science Minister was on the verge of launching a book denying evolution.

In the background is the reality that there is no more to cut despite Brian Lenihan’s commitment to find an extra €3B from current spending so as to keep on target. The next budget is just 12 weeks away and unless the plug is pulled that budget will cut social welfare to the bone, tax those on low income more and devastate health, education and communities. If you don’t believe me just look at what the HSE is considering in one hospital; unpaid leave of absence of 4 days so that the HSE can remain within budget for the rest of the year.

So what is the alternative? The reality is that the Greens and Fianna Fail have committed so much of our revenue to bailing out banks that our international credibility is now down the drain. We’ve no money now and none for the next 10 years. Despite all the plans the well is dry. In vino veritas means the truth comes out through wine. The truth is that whoever is office has no money to spend for 5 years so what can any new government actually do?

What FF & FG actually share is a poor sense of vision. I don’t get the Enda Kenny suggestion that it’ll take 10 years to revive the economy. Noel Browne didn’t take 10 years to rid the country of TB during the 50’s at a time of similar intellectual paralysis. The ESB built power stations, bogs were developed, there exists similar potential to develop our own resources in the interest of the national economy; fishing for non quota species off shore, tourism, agriculture, the arts. Of course that would require us to ditch the globalised model that FF & the Greens are so attached to now. Perhaps they’d change their opinion on the way forward if they could start a vineyard?

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