It’s seriously overdone to say something defies belief, but the expression can be justifiably applied to the economic incompetence of the Irish Government. Not alone did they sleep-walk into the present economic crisis and, a la Bush, transform record surpluses into record deficits, but they still haven't learned, even as we get within touching distance of the iceberg.
In order to save a few million they’ve implemented deeply unpopular cuts in health and education, but meantime they’ve ignored the opportunity to save billions, for example by deferring any foreign ‘aid’ until we get back into the black, and by selling off some of our mis-managed state assets.
Then comes the ‘pork crisis’. Now the annual value of this industry is €350 million. We lose a few days production and the industry (mainly farmers) come looking for compensation. Leave aside for a minute that any other so-called industry would have to fend for itself, but the Government immediately agrees a package worth €180 million! Half a year’s worth! Please explain.
Then, with 2009 likely to show miniscule inflation levels, if not outright deflation, they agree to give public servants a 4% pay increase, costing well over €1 billion. And of course getting nothing in return, such as changes in outmoded work practices.
And now there’s a nasty sting in the tail. With our AAA+ rating of a few years ago now in tatters, we’ll have to pay top dollar for the billions we’ll need to borrow over the next few years. That's bad. But what's really bad is that we may not get anyone to lend to us. The pool of funds to buy government bonds has shriveled like a scrotum in a snow-storm, as even the Germans, the most worthy of borrowers, have recently found out.
We truly live in interesting times.