Brutal Budget

This week’s budget here in Rip Off Ireland was a state strategy of displacement where the worst effects of a government initiative were displaced onto those least able to do anything about it. It was nothing short of a state economic assault on the poor. All the ministers who are taking a pay cut including the Taoiseach can more easily carry the loss than the families on social welfare who will see their benefits cut by a few percentage points. 20% of a whole lot is easy to put up with. It cuts back on the trimmings. Take 5% away from a little and the necessities are being chopped.

Conor O’Clery put the ‘leading by example’ narrative into some perspective in a way that helped rubbish the myth of the nation pulling together in an act of collective fiscal sacrifice:

Pity the Irish prime minister. Brian Cowen has just taken a 20 percent pay cut, leaving him the equivalent of $300,000 a year. Two years ago the Taoiseach, as he is known, was the highest paid leader of any country in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the group of rich nations which includes the United States, Germany and France. His cash remuneration for leading a country of 4.5 million people brings him down to the level of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, population 61.5 million ... If anything it draws attention to how overpaid the leaders of this small nation still are. Vladimir Putin, the prime minister of Russia, draws a mere $137,000 a year.

Although it was certainly ‘jobless and joyless’ as described by Richard Bruton of Fine Gael, it was a fiendishly clever budget by the state. Not because government cutting back on public spending is either innovative or ingenious. The strategic wisdom of the strategy lay in the manner in which the government has shifted culpability for the Republic’s economic woes from the bankers to the public service workers. Working class people are now the enemy at the gate while the bankers have been shifted off to the safety of their vaults.

The best the bunglers can offer the people whose futures they consign to penury is a statement that next year the economy will shrink by 1.25% compared with the current year’s decline of 7.5%. The chances of that prediction coming to pass have to be slim. One of the reasons the current crisis is hard to take is that the bunglers got the rest of their predictions wrong and maligned as Jeremiahs anyone who got it right. Why should it be any different this time round?

The ferocity of the budget was matched only by the contempt within the move to lower the price of alcohol. It was like Marie Antoinette’s ‘let them eat cake’. Urge the poor to get blocked and become inured to their misery as they stew in their squalor. Joe Higgins of the Socialist Party referred to the booze factor when he hit out at the brutal budget. What a disaster it would have been had some candidate other than Higgins been elected to the European parliament last year. His is a voice of principled opposition. Other strident voices raised against the budget and which were accompanied by a copy of the 1916 Proclamation would jump into government with the Fine Gael and the blue shirts given half a chance. Then watch the shedding of the radical rhetoric and stand by for the poorest to get screwed six ways to Sunday.

The die is cast, the gauntlet has been thrown down. If Joe Higgins can overcome the legacy bequeathed to radical politics by the irrelevant and laughed at Left – no easy task given the damage done by the prophet before people circus - the challenge may just be thrown back in the sneering faces of government ministers.


  1. Dont think anyone will be alchaholically enethsetised on a 12/14 CENT cut lol at 420 a pint and near parity with's a deflective red herring and nothing more. They should have the decency to open a few gin palaces..oh aye they're called tesco in Newry and Derry aren't they!!
    As for the leaders here, as i said before, they like money down here..that's the inherent genetic factor..the oirish pig at the trough that couldn't look up to see the train headin flat out for the station sleepers at the end of the track...if a labourer+a chippy on a ballymun building site in jan 06 could see it coming what are the 'experts' gettin paid for?
    The bankers are being protected by the government like the bishops protect the priests.

  2. A government of the privileged, by the privileged, for the privileged.
    Shame on them.

  3. AM

    You point about public service workers is spot on, many Irish elists and blogs are blaming all on this section of workers.

  4. Mick, it was Tommy McKearney who made the point to me last week