‘We can always hope for more emigration…’

Nice first round up post on the budget from our new southern blogger, Paddy McEvoy. Welcome on board Paddy! On the same subject, here’s an early round up on how the blogs saw it. Conaill was out of the blocks early (barely before the speech had ended, with a line Labour Party spokeswoman used shortly after in the Dail, On yer bike, a dig at the Greens, over the scaling back of some infrastructure projects and a Norman Tebbit inference. El Blogador follows that with a more detailed reference to some of the tightening in government spending: not the least the relaxing of teacher pupil ratio from a targeted 21 from the current 24 and out to twenty five.Suzy with her tremendous eye for telling detail has spotted which quangoes are being axed from poring over the Book of Estimates:

The Equality Authority’s budget has been cut by 43% and the Irish Human Rights Commission has been cut by 24% – but the National Disability Authority has only been cut by 2%. There is something very fishy going on there – a case of not rocking the boat and thus you don’t get cut??
A sharing of backservices by the Equality Authority and the Human Rights Commission could not possibly save that much money – there will be policy implications with these cuts, monitoring and protection of the rights of the most at risk in Irish society have been put at risk.

World BY Storm queries this thing called a levy. And asks why can’t Irish politicians call a spade a spade:

…why not just whack it onto tax rates? The argument that somehow this seems less ‘permanent’ than tax rates is a pointless political one with little justification. I’ll bet we’ll still be looking at that in a couple of years time, and that’s more than permanent enough. It would be fine if this presaged a conversation about expenditure and the necessity to pay for such through taxation, but as ever our political class – if not entirely hostile to such notions, as a certain tranche is – refuse to treat the electorate like adults and pretends that it is, if not quite jam today and cake tomorrow, well, bread and butter instead and no one has to pay.

Michael Taft is brilliantly ascerbic:

Fine Gael, ever the accountants’ party, is the more honest: more spending cuts, more job lay-offs, more economic decline but, at least, less borrowing. With Fianna Fail, we’ll rack up over €20 billion in borrowing over two years and still end up with economic decline, exacerbated by taking billions out of the economy through tax increases and spending cuts, leaving society with less money circulating. Brilliant.

His solution?

It would require a forensic intervention to maintain demand and jobs in critical sectors, while extracting money out of unproductive sectors: protecting low and middle incomes while impacting on higher incomes, property and unproductive private spending/investment. It would require a radical transformation of the Pension Reserve Fund to allow it to invest in commercial, long-term infrastructural development. It would require promoting those ‘public’ aspects of services (e.g. national schools), to the detriment of the ‘private’ aspects of services (e.g. private fee-paying schools’ subsidies).

It’s the kind of renewal of ‘public service’ that ten years of immense growth in private wealth has been left hanging as one of the unanswered questions of the Tiger years… he finishes with a slightly chilling remark from one jaded civil servant yesterday just after Brian Linehan’s rousing ‘We’re on the one road’ end to his speech:

As one Department of Finance official told me shortly after the Minister finished his budget statement – ‘We can always hope for more emigration.’ Back to the old standby when Irish governments get into fiscal trouble.


Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

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