You have probably seen it already. I’m hoping that it was genuine anger and not thinking about the next election. My reaction and those of thousands of people was ‘at long last’ after a truly terrible week and many terrible weeks to come somebody turned to a Government Minister and said stop the lying, look at what you have done, look at the state of us.
Our country has been brought to penury alright, and will remain in penury.
Personally I do not know if anyone else can fix this. Yes the ECB and IMF will ‘fix’ it for us – and not in a good way. But the lack of leadership in Ireland on all sides of the political divide is scary. There are about five people in the Dáil who may be good in a government, who understand their brief before they get it and want to learn how to fix things if they don’t know and won’t be swayed by ‘Public Affairs Consultants’ on large retainers to corporate bodies or dependent on the votes of independent TD’s to stay in government.
Our banking system is broke, our economic system is in tatters but so is politics, leadership and decision making and it has been for some time. Nobody has been able to tell us that we were in a mess and that things need to change and that yes it is going to be terrible but that they will act in the national interest rather than their own and be believable.
Candidates for an election have been selected already or will be shortly – and they are generally councillors who have worked their way up the ‘system’ or the family members of sitting TD’s – already in the system and continuing the arsing about. (Look at the Wicklow Labour Party Convention on Sunday night next if you want to see what I am talking about.)
If we remain a country who selects it’s public servants on the basis of fixing holes in roads, providing voters with a citizens information service (which is already provided for by the state) or who they were the child/wife/brother of or played GAA for then we will remain a failed nation. We do not elect legislators or policy specialists. We elect teachers, a few solicitors, a few doctors, publicans. We don’t elect many scientists, CEO’s, mothers, nurses, artists, engineers, accountants, entrepreneurs, administrators, social policy researchers.
If this country is to recover we need to reform how we pick people to stand for public office, what we expect them to do and how we expect them to do it. Clientelism has got to go. We must sort out the issue of how men lead this country and women don’t want to or can’t seem to be allowed to. And stop fecking talking about quotas providing privilege and unfair advantage. It is simply un-natural in a modern world for a country to be ruled by a parliament made up of 87% men. Find a way for women who can lead and know something about running a country to be able to enter public service on behalf of their neighbours, male and female. We must find a way for all the leaders and legislators who are out there to be able to come forward, be selected, voted for and not have to climb the greasy pole to do so. Get rid of the pole.
We also have a media that has failed us in not being able to answer the questions and sometimes being prevented in asking them. When chairpersons of public utilities can stop the publication and investigation of stories and corruption by calling editors and making threats. When media ownership in this country is placed in the hands of so few. Where property sections flourished and nobody shouted stop or ridiculed those that did for talking the economy down. It was never about people having enough, it was always about having more, wanting more, the latest ‘more’. And it was increasingly about opinion and comment and not news or why something was being done the way it was.
All those arguments about the public versus the private sector, the haves versus the have nots, how stupid do they look now? When we see what greed, cute hoorism, turning the other cheek and then picking up the pieces by guaranteeing corrupt banks has actually done to us. This was financial BSE – banks feeding money to themselves (staff and directors) to buy developments, funding developers and offering them more like it was smarties they were giving out. Governments when they weren’t giving people tax incentives to do this were making money from these practices – cyclical systems feeding each other, and the temperature going up all the time.
We kept being told we were a rich nation, yet people still waited on hospital trollies, people died waiting for cancer to be diagnosed beause they were not ‘private patients’, basic education was far from free, transport ticketing systems could not be integrated and the Luas never joined up. Children and adults were abused for decades in systems overseen by the state and we still could not change or enforce the laws and make sure that their rights were protected.
And then the notion of the rich country dissappeared and the banks failed. For months the European Central Bank and European Monetary bodies have been trying to get in to fix it, to get the government to admit that they made the wrong choices and that something had to be done because of the threat to other nations. Billions were bandied about and nobody knows what a billion is anymore we owe so many of them or need so many of them to remain a nation in hock. People outside this country speculated on our debt in the form of bonds – taking bets on us and we owed them money and it was expensive money.
Last weekend the European number-crunchers said no more and started briefing against our Government and still the denials came from Merrion Street and on international media where viewers cringed when they saw the likes of Dick Roche spinning rubbish over and over and over again.
There is still a lot of money in this country and there is still an economy. But there is also real poverty, real exclusion and a deficit of hope. There are people with disabilities worrying about whether someone will come to visit their house to get them out of bed in the morning and help them live their lives. There are families wondering how they will cope with children they can’t parent. The houses that were built and bought with mortgages that should never have been given will remain huge stressors as people can’t pay for them and worry about where they are to live. There are people who never owned a house wondering if they ever will. There are thousands who do not know the ECB and IMF are here and don’t want to know either. There are bags being packed and plans being made and people leaving and being lost and the pool of people to pick from to fix the country will diminish even further.
And still we have no leadership. One leader or one party is not going to fix this. Our current electoral system of checks and balances aka multiple seat constituencies has to change radically so that we can find leaders who are literate in how to do things and how to change things. And if anyone mentions needing an Obama please kick them in a place where it hurts. If a bishop pops up his head saying we need prayer please do likewise – it won’t be long now but they will.