Posted by: gaiusc | 4 September, 2008

The three hammer blows of reality

Yesterday there was the news that the budget deficit has ballooned from €2.88 billion to €8.4 billion.

Today it was confirmed that unemployment is getting as bad as everybody feared with a 42% rise in unemployment in only 12 months. The numbers out of work stand at 247,384 (6.1%), which is the highest it has been in 10 years, i.e. right back to the start of the Celtic Tiger. That’s likely to increase further in the next year. Males account for a huge portion of this increase, which is no surprise with all the builders being laid off. Just wait until the retail sector gets hit.

But late today, absolute confirmation that we really are in serious trouble this time came with the news that next year’s budget is being brought forward by six weeks. Here’s what the government press release says:

The aim of the change of timing is “(to) give clarity and confidence to investors and taxpayers alike, and provide a sound basis for economic recovery”, according to the Government.

The statement also referred to “an unprecedented set of unfavourable international factors including turbulence in global financial markets, faltering economic growth in the major economies, exchange rate shifts and the sharp rise in commodity prices”.

Let me get this straight…this government tried to take sole credit for the boom years but now that their financial irresponsibility has bitten them on the butt, they want us to believe that the downturn is all down to international factors?

Nothing to do with the fact that construction accounted for 23% of GNP in 2007 then? The average in Europe is 12% and even the Brits with their own property bubble only managed to get up to 11% and the so-called “apartment crazy” Spanish were lower with 21%.
And what of the 19% of the workforce were directly employed in this same industry? One in five people is directly employed by the industry that is collapsing right now.
What of all the indirect service sector jobs that are going to be lost in this savage “correction”?

While we were busy buying & selling houses and convincing ourselves that we were the richest nation on earth, the much trumpeted “knowledge economy” that provides real jobs has been completely neglected. David O’Meara, from Havok has lambasted the quality of IT graduates coming out of the Irish education system. This is a homegrown company giving jobs to highly-qualified graduates and they can’t find the staff they need in this country. Numbers doing science-related courses in college are dropping. Sure, why would you bother studying for four years when you could be a builder and earn far more money? Or have a nice safe job as a teacher and still earn more money while enjoying complete job security as well as a state pension?

While all this is going on, the clowns responsible for getting us into this mess have been awarding themselves pay increases. Our Taoiseach is now higher paid than both the Prime Minister of the UK and the President of the US.

It is sickening and with the news that the budget has been moved forward by six weeks and the ordinary taxpayer is about to be shafted to pay the bill for mismanagement of the country as well as the pay hikes, shouldn’t they be leading by example and sharing the pay cuts that will almost certainly be foisted upon us?

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