Don't know about the rest of you, but I'm off to have steel toe-caps fitted to my boots. Now that the Fiscal Reich is in power the name of the game is Looking After Number One, right? Hail the New Economic Order! Prices up, wages down! Unemployment up, tax social welfare, right? These days everyone's in love with the New Patriotism - ask not what your country can do for you, ask only what your country can do you for. Dawn raids on dole scroungers, right?
Was a time when you could get a patriotic ballad composed in your memory (or, at least, new words put to an old ballad) simply by forgetting to leave the general vicinity of the bomb after you lit the fuse (another martyr for oul Ireland, The Ballad of Eoin Gole). These days you have to get wounded in the Economic War Against Ourselves. Take less milk in your tea, grow your own vegetables, hoard old tea bags - and keep your kids at home a little longer so they don't have to employ so many teachers. What the hell, start a campaign to raise the school entry age to 9 - maybe they'll name a railway station or a bridge after you. Hail the New Patriots! Not me, suckers. I'm fighting back. Me and Martin O'Donoghue.
Just when I thought that only we in the Spontaneous Aggravation Party stood between Ireland and a complete capitulation to self-flaglation, up pops Marty with a ringing cry to gladden the ears of those of us who believe that since we didn't get the economy into a mess we shouldn't be the ones who pay for getting it out. (After all, boom and bloom or gloom and doom nobody in my neighbourhood is getting rich, right?) I quote from the Irish Press, November 26. "Dr. O'Donoghue said that' he would not be seeking nomination to the Seanad because he could not exist on a senator's salary."
Well, blow my bootlaces!
That's the spirit! None of this whinging about deficits, cash flows or the like. Go straight to the point, us labourers are worthy of our hire, right?
We in the Spontaneous Aggravation Party have long subscribed to the view that the great mass of workers are living beyond their means. It is self- evident. Prices are shooting up so high these days that one can't (to use Marty's term) "exist" within one's means. Therefore, it follows logically that the answer to this crushing economic crisis is that one must strive mightily to increase one's means, right?
And bear in mind that when Marty talks about a senator's salary being too small an income on which to exist he's talking about eight grand. Let us hope that our trade union negotiators bear this in mind the next time the lads on the far side of the table start bleating about hard times. It's official - eight grand is below the minimum needed these days. Its refreshing to hear an unemployed TD showing some spirit. Since the election we have been plagued with moaning from the losers. "I don't know yet whether I will qualify for dole payments and I'll have to apply for a medical card", moans Tom Bellew. Aw, shucks. Until you realise that this guy was one of the 166 we were paying to run the country - and he hasn't the foggiest about the welfare system.
"I put my trust in certain people I thought were on my side", says Mr. Bellew, "but my trust was misplaced."
Yeah. That's what a lot of us are saying about politicians these days. Given that the rate of unemployment among TDs is no higher than among the rest of the population they're doing a disproportionate amount of moaning about their circumstances. Let's have a look at those circumstances, let's run down the TDs. (Boy wouldn't you just love to run down a few TDs. In a Mere.)
Bernard Markey is 47. Gets a pension of £3,105 a year. Lorcan Allen (lovely man), is 42. Gets a pension of £7,000 a year. Of course, we all know that this (£140 a week) is below the level of existence, but Lorcan has a farm and an auctioneering business to keep him busy in his retirement. Oh, yes, he's also running for the Senate. Lorcan isn't proud, he won't turn up his nose at a measly eight grand.
Sean French (51) toddles off with a pension of over five thousand. (God, but haven't we come a long way since I got bounced from a job in 1976 with a redundancy payment of £l66? My friend Margaret did a little better. She was in the pension scheme, I wasn't. She got a pension for life - of £18. A year. No kidding. Margaret's in Australia now.)
Let's not run down any more TDs, they're boring.
They mostly have farms and pubs and auctioneering businesses, anyway. But let's pay attention to ex-TD Larry McMahon, re-zoner extraordinaire. As soon as Larry got his pink slip from the electorate he started demanding redundancy pay. Good man. (By the by, Larry gets a pension of £4,000 a year.) We in SAP fully support this demand. Of course, the payment would have to be commensurate with the work record. This year Larry and his fellow TDs turned up for work in the Dail on 51 days (as you can see, there really is something to all this talk about the high rate of absenteeism in Ireland). Larry himself made one single contribution to a Dail debate this year. Fair enough.
Back in the days when I worked for a living we used to figure redundancy payments at a week's pay for every year's work. At that rate Larry and his mates should be entitled to at least the price of a pint. Between them .
Thank the Lord that not everyone has succumbed to such craven whinging in the face of difficulty. Marty has
restored my spirits. Three times the New Patriots have gone to the electorate seeking a mandate to cut our living standards. Three times they have been refused such a mandate. Marty and I join with SAP in calling on all red-blooded Celts to stand your ground, fight back against the New Economic Order. And none of this soppy stuff about clamping down on "those who can best afford to pay". The target should be those who have been and still are raking in the folding green. And we all know who they are, don't we Marty? And, if you don't know, Larry can tell you, right Lar?
Anyway, you'll be pleased to know that marty won't be stuck for a bob or two. He's going back to Trinity to be - get this - Professor of Economics. Yesiree Bob, the man who was in charge of the economy between 1977 and 1980 is going to teach the next generation of New Patriots how to do it. Lord, wouldn't you give a heap and a half to be a fly on that blackboard? ¥