As every schoolboy knows, Irish government finances are in meltdown. If you've been reading that they have 'stabilised' or that there have been glimpses of the fabled 'green shoots of recovery', ignore it. This drivel comes from the same economic whores who kept telling us right up until the day the bubble burst that all was ok. In contrast, were I one to brag, I'd tell you that, back in March 2007, while the fantasy was at its height, I warned that disaster was around the corner.
The following story tells you all you need to know about how the public sector controls the taxes we handed over to them. Fergal O'Malley held a full-time job at the Athlone Institute of Technology, which paid him in excess of €80,000 (about $100,000) a year. Amazingly, over the same ten-year period, he also held another 'full-time' post at Galway University at similar remuneration.
Now you may think - after all, he lectured in engineering - that he had mastered the science of bilocation. Or you may think that he lectured days at one college and nights at the other. No, the answer is both simple and revealing. The President of the Athlone college let the cat out of the bag by admitting that O'Malley 'had fulfilled his teaching and tutorial obligations throughout the period in question''
And the amazing this is this. He did! You see, if you're in the happy position of being a lecturer at Irish Third Level, you have to do a maximum of 16 hours a week tutorial time. And what about the other 24 hours that we mere mortals have to work? Well, that's given over to, ahem, 'academic freedom'. And what's this academic freedom? Again, the Athlone Pres - it's 'research, innovation and creativity'.
Oh well, that's all right then.
And what happens to those who don't devote their academic freedom to 'research, innovation and creativity'? Well, they take an additional post at another institute. Or they start a little business. Or they work on their golf handicap. And they do because there's absolutely no compulsion for anyone to do more than their 16 hours. If you don't do any more, nothing happens. And for this we pay them between €70,000 and €150,000 a year.
Nice work if you can get it, especially when you have a generous index linked pension on top of it.
Where, you might ask, does the Irish Government acquire the funds to support such largess? Well, when we really did have a Celtic Tiger, driven by dynamic export industries, they got it from that productive sector of the economy. Now that this sector has been decimated, well, they borrow it. At the rate of €400 million a week! That's more than €100 for every person in the country. These kind of figures make the Greeks lookmore like the Swiss.
Now the educational sector is bad, God knows. (I know also, having been part of it for a few years). But it's breadline austerity in comparison to our health sector, where the waste and inefficiencies beggar belief. And the malaise applies, to a greater or lesser degree, throughout the public sector.
And that's why I eagerly look forward to the day when the solution is taken out of the hands of the pathetic dwarfs masquerading as our politicians and we're delivered to the tender mercies of the IMF. Only then will the knife be taken to the albatross that's dragging the country into the abyss.