PressEurop, October 26, 2010
Ireland’s government has announced plans to cut a further €15bn in state spending over the next four years. Who knew there was enough money left to do such a thing?
True, the story of Ireland’s decline and fall is getting tedious, even for those of us lucky enough to live in this benighted burgh, but €15bn in cuts is a shocking figure. Taken over the planned four years, it amounts to €10m in cuts a day, every single day.
National broadcaster (sell it?) RTÉ reports that the cuts are being implemented “to meet a 2014 target for cutting the Budget deficit agreed with the EU.”
So what’s the plan? Permanently close all roads? Demand every Irish resident sells a kidney on the black market (and then close the hospitals)? Euthanise everyone over 25, Logan’s Run style?
My preferred idea is to sell-off the leafy environs of the Dublin 4 postal district to Britain. Let’s face it, it’s their natural home anyway. We could even throw in Rathgar, home of former Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald for free.
It wouldn’t all be profit, of course. A Harrods Aviation-only air corridor would need to be set up, if only to deliver the prawn sandwiches and champagne to the layabout rentiers who live there. Getting hard currency in to the plutocrats would be a breeze, too. Branches of Donnybrook Fair could be set-up in the rest of Ireland to sell organic cheese, thus functioning like the old East German Intershops that operated at S-Bahn stops in West Berlin.
Still, €15bn for D4? A bargain! There’s surely €15bn worth of fur coats in the place to begin with!
For anyone who thought voodoo economics went out with hot-hatches and mullets, Ireland’s shocking austerity plan will come as a, er, shock. Despite a sixteen year boom, Ireland remains an underdeveloped country, one that jumped from agrarian society to post-material economy without bothering to do much of the annoying, dirty business of making anything.
Ireland’s finance minister, living saint Brian Lenihan, told journalists the plan assumes an average growth rate over the four year period of 2.75 per cent. Laugh? I nearly bought one.
As Ireland already found out in the last round of cuts – and Britain is in the process of discovering now – slash and burn policies shrink the economy, not grow it.
Obsessed with comparisons to household budgets and how we are ‘living beyond our means’, the economic wizards of Britain and Ireland seem to have forgotten that, unlike households, national economies are their own customers and paymasters. Spending cuts and unemployment rises mean further retraction of consumer spending and a lower tax take.
Or, as comedian Jeremy Hardy recently put it: If I’m late with the mortgage payments I don’t say: ‘Right! No more toilet paper for me! I’ll just wipe my arse on the walls from now on!’