Other people's pain

Our politicians and our media are never so noble as when they're talking about other people's pain.

Every time we hear a minister, an economist or a journalist talking about the economic catastrophe, we hear them talk about the pain to be suffered by the tax-payer. We should listen carefully to the language they use, because language has a way of turning things into reality.

"Tax-payers will have to pay for the catastrophe", they tell us. Or punters even. "The punters will end up paying for this".

The truth is that the people who pay for this will be both citizens and non-citizens. People (as opposed to tax-payers) will pay for this government's stupidity and corruption.

The people who pay the most and the hardest will not be the average tax-payers, neither will it be those who pay very little tax. The rich and powerful elite will feel no pain as a result of these brutal cuts. They may feel irritated or disappointed, but pain will not be involved.

The hardest hit people will be those whose incomes are below the tax threshold. They will quite simply pay with actual physical pain, with hypothermia, with hunger, with depression, with loneliness, with lost opportunity, with the sight of their children's future disappearing.

They will pay when they can't get medical treatment. They will pay when they can't afford to heat the house and walk the streets instead. They will pay when their children go to school hungry, cold and hopeless. They will pay with emigration.

They will die for an imaginary Ireland – the imaginary Ireland envisaged by Fianna Fail, the Progressive Democrats, the Greens, the IMF, our EU partners – a country without a heart or a soul but with a credit-rating to die for.

They will die because cancer care will be cut back. They will die because the queues at hospital waiting rooms are lengthening. They will die because their communities are run by drug barons. They will die because they can't get warm anymore.

They will not die for patriotism. They will not give their lives for a better Ireland. They will die for a capitalist shambles that values anonymous millionaires but sets no value by a 75-year old retired bricklayer whose back is gone and whose heart is not the best. They will die for a corrupt political party.

Therefore their pain and their deaths are hopeless, pointless, obscene. They will be the numberless victims of stupidity and corruption. What could be worse than that?

William Wall is a novelist, poet and short story writer.