Monday, December 27, 2010

What promise does 2011 hold for Ireland?

We ought to remind ourselves that the average age of our abundantly educated, talented, well-travelled, multi-lingual, sophisticated population is under 35 years and that in itself is a magnificent asset. But the chamber of celestial irrelevancies is entirely populated by jaded, faded mainly late middle-aged members, not one of whom is under 30 years of age. How could they possibly have a relevant engaging relationship, vibrant empathy and a convincing understanding of the needs and aspirations of that younger cohort of the population whose prospects they have seriously blighted?

A new lexicon, based on dubious sense of entitlement, has emerged in Ireland that has allowed its advocates to become more and more detached from the necessity of earning prosperity and wellbeing. Politicians using the expression ‘fair and just’ as code for unsustainable levels of welfare, of a scale that ought not to be necessary in a viable, stable, pay-your-way economy but the scale of which creates a long-term poverty trap for those in receipt of it and those who are obliged to pay for it.

‘Fair and reasonable’ is becoming synonymous with exorbitant professional fees and charges, bonus payments, retirement entitlements of ministers’ etc. – which are also on a scale that is detached from our economic reality. How can a bust nation, whose sovereignty has been surrendered and whose GDP accounts for such a tiny portion of that of the EU, for example, support so many professional firms whose annual revenues place them firmly in the top quartile of their European counterparts? If ‘fair and reasonable’ payments are significantly higher than international norms and greatly exceed what can be afforded – what particular criteria define ‘fair and reasonable’ and what outcomes are delivered by those in receipt of such largesse other than a well-nurtured sense of infinite entitlement?

Ireland’s GDP in 2009 is apparently being 27% higher than the EU average as a consequence of asset price inflation but this so-called wealth is not capable of fully employing the nation’s population or funding its spiralling debt. Where is it, who controls it and how productive is it and what benefit is the nation achieving from it?

Ireland needs an establishment that recognises the importance of and is capable of delivery the nation from one generation to the next in a more enhanced condition than prevailed when they obtained the power to influence it. That requires more than a Dáil comprised of neighbourhood populists, passing opportunists, the unimaginative self-righteous and sundry ‘blow-in’s’ from distant parts.

But neither Fine Gael, the Greens, nor The Labour Party has presented a complete panel of prospective candidates to the electorate to contest the general election that is to take place only weeks away. How can the electorate form an opinion of what these parties are capable of achieving, or is the electorate to merely rely on the trends in opinion polls to identify virtue and potential?

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