Morning Blog - 05 December 2010

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12.38 Depressing listening on the Dunphy Show on Newstalk this morning - an impenetrable, ruthless, determined intention by panelists to make savage cuts - with not one word about how savings could be made without devastating the poorest. Jill Kerby of the Sunday Business Post accused ordinary people - who she says she writes 'for and about' of being 'too inert and in denial'. I hope a few people will take the trouble to write to her. The superficiality of her considerations are breathtaking and yet she reckons Mary Robinson would not be properly qualified as a potential negotiator with the ECB/EU. Presumably she fears that Robinson might not put business intersts ahead of any or all other considerations.

12.10 Dunphy quotes commentator who has said that the German banks remonstrating with the Irish banks is like a drug pusher lecturing an addict. Oh no, says Cormac Lucey, 100Ks of Irish people entered into lending contracts here in Ireland. 'We' are all responsible see?  Does he mean the oridnary mortgages that people had to enter into to put a roof over their heads? Nonsense, says Paul Sommerville, the plain fact of it is that 'The banks were perfectly happy to keep all the fantastic profits they made from ordinary house buyers during the boom and now want to socialise the losses incurred through their own recklessness.' Phew.

11.42 The Dunphy Show is discussing how Brians Cowen and Lenihan are now alleged to have been telling porkies about the infamous 'night of the guarantee'. Gormley has blabbed that twas all planned in cabinet the previous day. So, contrary to all they previously claimed about it, it looks like they may actually have coldly caluclated this devastation. The obvious question is: who the hell are they protecting? And why? This is about much more than protecting a few developer friends. 

Elsewhere, Kathleen Barrington has a good article in the Sunday Business Post about why the EU/ECB are being so vindictive. Essentially it is that the IFSC was so out of control that German banks and other insitutions operating through it have been hurt beyond belief and they are determined to teach the Irish a lesson. Except that, of course, the people who are paying the cost of the lesson had nothing to do with any of it - and they canot afford to pay.

Jill Kerby of the SBP now saying on Dunphy that when times are good you don't notice how stupid people are. Ahem. There were many, many people who were painfully aware of the stupidity of what was going on. But the SBP and media outlets like them did not want know.

10.35 Further to my last post, I was of course overlooking an honourable exception to media silence on the subject of what these cuts will do - Vincent Browne is in full flight on the back page of The Sunday Business Post:

"And the brutality of it. Just look at the meance of the section dealing with a more effective monitoring of jobseekers activities. The impudence of it. These well-paid high flyers of the EU and IMF seeking to strike terror into people who have lost their jobs because of the barbarity of the eocnomic system that these same high flyers espouse."

10.00 Miriam Cotton here, at the wheel from now until 12. Putting the subject of cheese into another context, a St Vincent De Paul spokesperson said that people had queued for it at one of their centres the other day.  Thinking about this this morning I wondered if, in the middle of all the talking about whether to pay up or default, there was any coverage of the effect on lower paid people of the recession or maybe even some analysis of the likely effect of severe cuts on people already living close to or in poverty.  Having swept through The Sunday Times, The Independent and The Sunday Business Post today, I am fairly certain that not one editor, columnist, political analyst or any other commentator or journalist has seen fit to think about this, let alone write about it. As ever, the universal consensus is that the cuts are inevitable and necessary.  If we started to write about the reality they will inflict, people might begin to question them. And we can't have that now can we.

08.05 Guess Who's Having a Good Recession rocks on: thanks to a tweet from the mysterious gnomeandroise last night, drawing our attention to Martin 'Glen Dimplex' Naughton's pronouncement on cuts to the minimum wage being 'a step in the right direction'. Naughton was interviewed in the Irish Times on Friday, with a puff piece run on the front page. If political journalism used to be beset by the 'thank you for coming in to explain the budget, Minister' syndrome, the IT is certainly in the grip of a 'thank you for explaining how your profit margin and version of the national interest coincide, Captain of Industry'. I'm too easy like Sunday morning to dig the links right now (but I will) but during 2009-10 there were an impressive amount of op-eds handed to various management types to explain to us that running a country is just like running a corporation. They would inevitably proceed to apply a management 'model', such as the 14.5 steps to Synergetic Proto-Dynamics for Achievers,or delve into such management classics as Who Moved my Cheese? (the answer to the latter, of course, is now fairly clear).Not sure why, but after one of this articles I stop to imagine the logistics of training the nation in such a model - mass power point rallies at the Pope's cross down the park?

Most recently, Dermot Desmond's speech to the Golf Business Conference was breathlessly reproduced as an op-ed, throwing at our swinish feet such pearls as "Let’s second people from the private to public sector and vice versa so we will again see vibrancy, transparency and accountability." Nobody knows what this actually means - vibrancy? Do you vibrate at your job, and if you do, should you? - but we all know what he means by it. But I'll stop here, because as Larry Mullin pointed out recently, the rich are being 'unnecessarily humiliated' in Ireland, and he's particularly upset at the treatment of DD . Qu’ils mangent de la brioche, just make sure it's brand RED. Anyway, I digress. Back to Martin Naughton. The front page fluffer lists most of the pertinent policy proposals, from cuts in numbers in the Dail and the Army, to the cancellation of overseas aid (depolitical metaphor watch: 'if I couldn't support my family, I wouldn't borrow money to give away to philanthropy'). He then gets around to cuts in the minimum wage as a 'step in the right direction', a policy proposal that rests, in both pieces, on this assertion alone. No comparative analysis, no informed speculation,nothing. His authority to advocate immiseration is based on nothing but the standard equation; proportionate distance from that state of being. According to Inside Ireland in March 2010, Naughton entered the Forbes Magazine list of World Billionaires at no 655, with a net worth of 1.5bn. That is, in the year in which it all implodes, Martin N posts a net worth that is, let's say, possibly capable of philanthropy. But he wants to cut the minimum wage. And every time you hear this from him or people like him, it's time to get all late 19th century  and ask them from whence they speak. If they need a model to understand it, there's one here, it's just less dynamic and with a surfeit of cheese.

08.00 Morning all and welcome to Budgetjam, day 5 in the seasonal countdown to post-society. We're still snug and safe in a mainly deserted luxury development in the Tatras, where the budgetjam analysis monkeys are on amphetamines just to get them through to Wednesday. Nobody tell PETA, and all will be well.

Gavan here briefly, Miriam Cotton of Mediabite will be here from 10, and trooper that she is to do Sunday morning, she will be given the gifts of the Marian Finucane Show, and further installments in Eoghan Harris's theory of Equality (the same immiseration and precariousness for all!). Now while we wait for him to script that for Twink, a few contributions to the Guess Who's Having a Good Recession came in over night. This from Stephanie Rains:

"A slight tangent to the 'having a good recession' series, but I still think that now would also be a good time to talk about all those appointments to all sorts of 'boards', many of which are (nominally) in charge of oversight and regulation across all sorts of areas.  These are, of course, jobs which never appear in the Irish Times, and don't seem to involve all the palaver the rest of us go through to get our pampered public sector jobs (stiff competition, painstakingly-written application forms, multiple references from former employers, formal interview before carefully-composed panel, etc etc).  They are instead handed out to friends and confidantes of elected representatives - a vital oil to the wheels of party machinery, and none of the major political parties is innocent of this.

One of the more memorable includes, of course, Celia Larkin's appointment in 2005 to the board of the National Consumer Agency: according to their most recent published annual report (2009), she was paid 13,000 euro in fees for this role.  Not a fortune, but then the cynics among us may wonder how onerous the work was, too. And she's just one, probably earning a pittance in 'fees' by comparison to the hundreds (thousands?) of others.  Has anyone ever tried compiling a list of these appointments and their fees, I wonder?"