It is a grand little country after all - where our austerity preaching politicians are feted as celebrities and people like Lucinda Creighton and Paschal Donohue come across as angels, such is their innocence and horror if there is a mention of ideology - or in their case, codology. The name of the whole game here is spin - because spin works and spin is politics.
Paschal, in particular, likes to tell you and I that we are broke and the Government is being forced to borrow money just to pay our public service bills - if he’s in good form he’ll throw in a bit about the nurses and the doctors. Somebody should tell Paschal that Ireland has a long history of borrowing money from the markets to pay all of these bills - and the crisis began when we just couldn’t go back to the well anymore. The funds that we are using now come at a much lower interest rate - but perhaps the real problem we face is in what we have chosen to do with these funds, and what caveats were attached to us receiving this money.
The new buzz from the Government is to tell us little citizens that we will march out of this crisis; that it is only a matter of time before Enda Kenny parts the Irish Sea and the hordes of suited neoliberal entrepreneurs come to save us from politically imposed austerity. Let’s take a look at the spin and at how they are managing to keep the stench of neoliberalism away from our sensitive noses.
Late last year Joan Burton spoke of the increase in the reporting of people who were thought to be abusing the system; while last week we were told how her department will “save” €645m through fraud detection and control measures. She of course is using fraudulent figures herself in this area - as Michael Taft has shown us the figure is near to €26m than the €645m million the Government is spoofing about. This is a purposeful attempt to paint those on welfare as being central to the current mess we’re in.
If that hurts wait for this: does the Government ever publish figures as to how much money would be saved if we were to implement means testing of the children’s allowance and state old age pensions? The citizens would accept a fair threshold of income and assets - anybody above this reasonable line would be deemed to be in no need of these benefits, and the money saved could be redirected to the poor and the needy. But there is no chance of this happening, for those people who are wealthy enough to do without these state payments basically control politics in Ireland.,
Michael Noonan told us two weeks ago that he is offering a 30% tax break to encourage certain high value foreign citizens to come and live here and magically create loads of jobs. I know, it’s difficult not to laugh, but he was very serious about this fairytale from fairyland. We must understand that neoliberals always profess that the state has no role in job creation. This, of course, just means that the state has no role but to make conditions favourable for entrepreneurs and foreign high-value entrepreneurs at that. This from the no-ideology party who are whipping the poor and the vulnerable with austerity.