A DEADLY DISEASE
As the world braces itself against the potential pandemic of Swine Flu, here in Ireland another epidemic is running through the disgruntled population , the now national preoccupation of the Blame Game ! The BG has been gaining momentum since the nose-dive of our once Tiger economy, and with each succeeding punitive Budget the BG stats are mounting.
Lets try and analyse the complex components of the Blame Game. It starts at the top with our panicked politicians who blame all our economic woes on global trends and the bankers. Never a word is uttered by government on their inept handling of our finances during the boom, or their fawning acquiescence to the property surge that everyone else knew was unsustainable. No, according to those who should (and probably do) know better all of Ireland’s economic woes can be attributed to market forces and bad banking management.
Next on the BG scale are small businesses who thrived during the good times and now ,like everyone else are feeling the pinch. Their mantra for these troubled times is that the cost base here is too high and it puts us at a competitive disadvantage. In other words …wage cuts and new terms of employment or to put it even more succinctly, more work for less money! This sector also seems very much engaged (or enraged might be a better word) with the Public Sector and what they perceive as the Rolls Royce pensions given to government employees for a token contribution. While a recent Budget has increased the Pension levy for public workers, not enough say the business community, we want more!
The Public Servants (of which I’m one, so I’ll try and be objective here) of course suffer from the BG disease as much as the others and their spleen is vented in the direction of government and in particular to the Minister of Finance, who to their mind is on a witch hunt against them. They feel hardest hit by his two Budgets as they were left with a pension levy which in effect is a pay cut. They also feel hard done by as their work load has increased and because their jobs are secure, public sympathy for them is non existent.
The Unemployed who depend on State welfare are aggrieved as their Christmas bonus week has been cut. This group have several targets in their BG sights, the government of course as well s the bankers and the more reflective see their plight as being the consequence of a system that is corrupt and biased against the poor.
On any night in any pub in the country you can find pundits with their fingers pointing at some section of society whom they believe have gotten us to the sad and sorry state we find ourselves in. The verdict is delivered with a gravitas more worthy of a hanging judge as the throat is cleared and the damning indictment is delivered, “In my opinion, the _________ (bankers, politicians, public sector, global forces, the whole system) are to blame…”
It seems to me that this little island is just too small to be pointing fingers at each other. If Ireland Inc. goes down we all go down with her and the world of recriminations and accusations will not change one single thing. It’s natural to want someone to blame when things go wrong but more urgently we all need to work together to ensure a future for this nation. Before the advent of the Celtic Tiger we were often seen as a country of begrudgers it would be a pity now as the Tiger has left the building ,if we were to earn the title of a nation of blamers. The BG can be as destructive as any virus unless we nip it in the bud and deal with it now, at present it is spreading faster than the Swine Flu and left unchecked will kill any hope of recovery. Maybe Catherine 11 of Russia got it right when she said, “I praise loudly, I blame softly.” Now is the time to build up loudly and leave the BG to one side as we struggle to restore some sense of confidence and instill that winning spirit back into the Irish psyche.