Monday, November 22, 2010

Bailing out

It most certainly felt like the morning after the night before. On sunday night, Brian Cowen was waiting in the wings with his namesake for hours on end to announce to the nation what we already knew, and what the international media had been reporting for the past week or so. Ireland needs international help to deal with the massive cock-ups made by the governments, past and present.

I only see this bailout plan as a positive thing, to be honest. I would put as much faith in the current government to sort out this economic crisis, as I would into a baboon with a learning disability to operate the Large Hadron Collider. Admittedly, there will have to be some harsh measures, but at least these measures are being monitored and regulated by someone other than a corrupt minister only interested in lining his own pockets.

In his 1pm/7pm/8pm/8.15pm announcement Brian Cowen said that these cut backs will affect everyone. My question is, will the Dail be taking a paycut alongside the rest of us?

In my native Finland, there has been some criticism as to why other countries are asked to fork out vast amounts of money to bail out a country that has failed to regulate it's banks' lending practices or to pay back it's loans in the boom years like so many other countries, Finland included, have done? Finland suffered a similar banking crisis in the late 1980's and early 1990's. I remember seeing the news in my childhood, the main story being the recession for about 5 years running. Having learned from our mistakes, the succeeding governments took measures to make sure it wouldn't happen again. People are, however, left wondering how could this not have been foreseen? I'm sure it was. But unfortunately it was foreseen by someone who either, didn't voice their concern, or when they did, they were laughed off by all of Celtic Tigers and their cubs with euro signs flashing before their eyes. They were too busy building the 8 bedroom houses, buying the second homes in Bulgaria and drawing out another loan to do up the conservatory in the old house.

It was easy get swept up with it. All you heard was people telling you how the economy was in such a great growth, how we should spend more because it was good for the economy. Keep the money in Ireland, it's good for the economy. I've even heard someone blame this recession on all those foreign nationals who came into the country in the early naughties and sent their money back home. I've heard people saying it is this money, leaving the country and not staying here to keep the economy going, that is to blame for this deep hole of crap we now find ourselves in.

Every time you shop online, you're more than likely to spend money abroad. Your foreign holidays are leaving money out of the country by the bucketload. What about me, and hundreds, if not thousands, like me? A foreign national, working in Ireland full time, living here full time, paying my taxes here?  What about all the Irish people working abroad, sending money home, or saving it all up and bringing it home with them upon their return.

In any case, we are receiving help from the EU countries, ECB and the IMF. I must say I was surprised to hear the UK and Sweden, non-euro countries have agreed to bilateral loans. Well, UK not so surprising, but Sweden even more so. But I suppose they must feel not only the pressure of the other EU countries, but the concern for their own economies if this now localised problem was to suddenly become europe-wide. Surely it's better to fix that one broken tile on your roof now, rather than to wait for the whole roof to cave in?

A quick word on RTE's coverage of the 1pm/7pm/8pm/8.15pm announcement, or more accurately, the lack thereof. No information on the website or Aertel, which as far as I know, should update in real time. RTE1 saw fit to lighten the mood and air Fair City as scheduled before the press conference, without even as much as a banner across the bottom of the screen to let viewers know what was happening and when it was happening. Appalling lack of communication from the national broadcaster at a time when it really was needed. Shame.

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