Government’s conscious effort to present public with positive spin on crisis amounts to nothing short of political persiflage and cowardice.
Michael Noonan, in his Budget 2013 speech to the Dáil declared sagely that, the ‘Irish financial crisis could be summarised in one word – debt’.
I am comforted by the Minister’s pecuniary perspicacity and I am quite sure that the special advisors who afford him such insight are worthy of their six figure salaries, however I have to admit to some misgivings. Given the Minister’s obvious economic acumen, I was surprised that in his speech to the Dáil he failed to mention once in the forty minutes he spoke for, the promissory note that still holds a gun to the nation’s head.
My analogy of a gun being held to the head of the nation is flawed of course, until I add that the gun being held to our heads, is in our own hands. This presents a far more accurate analogy. The insanity of the Anglo Promissory note, and the government’s continued blind obligation to paying it surely merited mention in a budget in which the finance minister had just highlighted debt as being the sole reason for the present penury we find ourselves in.
The narrative of Budget 2013 was deliberately, consciously and appallingly positive. If the financial crisis could be summarised in one word, so too, could the narrative of the Budget itself – grand. One could be forgiven for thinking we’d all been sucked through an economic wormhole and emerged unscathed in some parallel universe where the insurmountable debt burden, the Anglo promissory note, the Troika, our debt-to-GDP ratio, exponential rate of mortgage arrears and swathes of emigration were nothing but a painful memory. Where everything was grand, sure.
One need look no further than the failure to mention the promissory note for evidence of the government’s deliberate ploy in this budget to deny negativity in all it’s forms. On 31st March 2013, the government will hand over another 3.1 billion to the artist formerly known as Anglo Irish.
This money will be handed back to the Central Bank… where it will be shredded.
Yes. You read that correctly. Shredded. Or burned. It’s grand sure.
Ultimately, this budget – which must be endured because of debt alone, both national and personal – fails to deal with precisely this issue. Even those few salutary highlights in Budget 2013, namely the 10-point plan to assist SME’s, are rendered entirely spurious by the very fact that those SME’s still require consumers to feel confident enough to spend money on whatever it is they are producing. Consumers do not spend when they are working harder, for less money.
My money is your income and ever will be thus. The government’s inability to understand this basic principle is why once again, it has failed in it’s objectives.
A country does not recover from it’s debt burden by increasing it’s level of debt any more than an alcoholic benefits from increasing his alcohol intake. The result is the same in both cases. Death.
But I return to the promissory note once more. Enda Kenny would have us believe that the Budget was not the place to discuss our obligations to the IBRC. In March of this year he refused to answer questions on the promissory note because the negotiations were far too ‘technical, and they are very complex.’
Not to put too fine a point on it Enda, but if you can understand it, I’d fancy our chances of grasping the jist of it. Certainly, if we as a nation are to be expected to hand over 3.1 billion euro a year until 2024 only to see that money be burned, I’ll have a fucking stab at it.
I do not believe for one second that the promissory note was excluded due our leader’s concerns about the general ignorance of the populace but rather because he rather fears it’s burgeoning understanding.
The government’s fear of swelling masses in Molesworth Street was evident in Brendan Howlin’s conclusion which he presented to the house. His prescient forecast that, ‘future generations will be proud that we, as a people, tackled this crisis head on’ would have been highly amusing were it not so sinisterly contrived.
Throughout this crisis, the Irish government has not been casting envious glances in the direction of Syntagma Square. Howlin’s assertion that we will be commended by future generations for our tacit surrender to the strait-jacket of neo-liberalism is not only a lie, but a lie constructed purely to ensure that our understanding will not lead to the scenes we have witnessed in Athens and Madrid. A handful of pissed off commuters is a small price to pay when compared with the prospect of something akin to the Κίνημα Αγανακτισμένων Πολιτών setting up camp on Merrion Row.
The people will not be fooled by this government’s concerted efforts to manipulate their emotions any more than they are duped by our leader’s projections of adequacy. This Budget was pitched just so in order that the silent majority do not dare to rise against the vocal minority and hold them accountable for their lack of consideration.
Blessed are the meek was the narrative of Budget 2013 as indeed, it has been the signature of this government since it came into power. It is worth noting however, that the third of Matthew’s Beatitudes (Matt. 5:5), while praised almost universally is an open invitation to servitude and moral slavery. The meek shall inherit no more of the earth than that which they gather beneath their fingernails while they scratch in the dirt. And just as with Minister Howlin’s closing comments, it was written by authoritative hands eager only to ensure their own survival.
How often we hear the powerful extol the dignity that may be found in subservience. And how often we find ourselves, the consequence of silence.