Wednesday, 25th July 2012
The last few days have seen a welter of stories churned out about the Irish economy. If there is one thing that we are not short on these days it is stories on the Irish economy. Sometimes with so much information coming at you from all sides its hard to stand back and try to figure out what is really of importance and what is not. Like the old saying that paper doesn't refuse ink it seems that these days television and internet air time has to be filled up with something, sometimes anything. However it was interesting in a week when the Government launched a big jobs stimulus package just how unexcited everyone seemed to be about it. Everyone besides the Government parties that is. For something that supposedly had been so long in the planning and was offering up thousands of new jobs there just wasn't any sort of air of excitement about the whole announcement.
And it wasn't as if there was much else going on either. Of course there were the usual news stories but nothing on the scale of what the Government were announcing. Yet still it seemed as if the public were just bored by it. Maybe bored is not the right word, perhaps resigned would be closer to the mark. It looks as if the Irish people are taking a wait and see approach on this Government announcement. While it certainly didn't have all the drama of the travails of the Quinn family you might think that people would be more energised by the news then they were. Maybe we've just had too much news on the economic front? Maybe we're just more interested in concrete proposals and jobs that people can take up straight away? However what we weren't interested in, even though it was more economic news, was the ideas that the IMF have for the country. Reductions in Social Welfare benefits, reductions in Medical Card numbers as well as means testing on Children's Allowance. At first it was being reported that this was what the IMF were looking for to be introduced here. Naturally enough there was a big of uproar about that. Then it was clarified and explained that these were merely 'suggestions' that were being put forward by the group. However considering that we are in hock to this group for a very significant amount of money you can't help but wonder just how subtly these 'suggestions' were being made. However in amongst all of these stories that were vying for our time there was another story that didn't really garner much attention. This was a story of just two small statics that however spoke volumes. It showed that in the last number of years the percentage decrease in disposable income for the poorest in Ireland was 18% whereas the percentage increase in disposable income for the richest was 4%. These two statistics didn't really get that much attention, certainly less than even the weather has been getting of late but the numbers that they represent are really telling and show just how comprehensively the gap between those who have and those who don't is getting bigger. Of course the numbers don't talk money, they don't talk about a lot of things but just as bare statistics they do reveal an awful lot about just how Irish society is at this present moment in time and more importantly how this economic crisis is effecting people and who precisely is paying for it. There is an awful lot of very obvious poverty in Ireland at the moment and there is also a lot of poverty that is hidden. A lot of people have had to rein in their ideas and have had to adapt their lifestyles to changed circumstances. And one of the terrible things is that this situation isn't going to change or improve any time soon. The Minister for Finance has already said that he is ruling nothing out when it comes to the next Budget. Given that the Government in the pre-election statements said that they would ring fence certain areas then this is worrying and you have to think what is going to be on the agenda. The IMF might be an economic institution but underlying it is a political ethos which is unapologetically right wing. For better or worse Ireland really't completely right or left, although of course historically it has always tended towards the centre right. Over the decades Ireland has become more progressively a fairer and more inclusive society, politically as well as economically. It would be a shame if that were to be sacrificed.
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Google AlertWhen a company which has it's European Headquarters here in Ireland is called 'evil' and 'immoral' by M.P.s in The House of Commons you tend to sit up and take notice. The particular company that was being referred to was Google and the reason it had enraged M.P.s in London was because even though it has a big operation there and conducts a lot of business there it pays no corporate tax. It does this by having all of its financial transactions finished here in Ireland. And the company here is …
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