Our oligarchic overlords, grandees of the Sunday Independent Rich List, have helicoptered in once more to tell us our state is not a state, it's a badly run business that needs a round of coporate downsizing. While the credentials of the group in the field of state administration are for the most part nil, that's no barrier to the attempt, it seems, and some weeks ago we found their Blueprint for National Recovery plastered all over the national media and booming from the airwaves.
And welcome to the election day special edition of CrisisJam. In the political debates of the last few weeks it has been genuinely remarkable how little has been said about those vulnerable groups within Irish society who have borne most of the impact of a crisis visited upon us by the greed and negligence of the political and corporate elite.
The onset of recession has offered an opportunity to the powerful and the wealthy to seek to drive a wedge between those ordinary folk in Ireland who draw an income from the public purse and those who do not. The self-serving hostility towards the public sector that exists within corporate circles invariably reveals itself in the advocacy of a certain, predictable version of shock therapy. If those who are employed by the state were to be subjected to the same pressures and standards that prevail in the private sector, the argument goes, they would be whipped into line double quick.
The onset of recession has sparked a systematic assault on the notion of the public good in Ireland. The vilification of the public sector in the media mirrors the ambition of the government to erode the institutions of state provision. The political prejudices of Fianna Fail are only too apparent in their plans for third level institutions. In this essay, Colin Coulter takes a look at what the authors of the crisis have in mind for higher education in Ireland.