Festival proves economy is so bad it's laughable
Published 15/11/2010 | 05:00
PERHAPS, given the country's current predicament, all we can do is laugh.
Kilkenny, renowned as Ireland's capital of comedy, hosted Ireland's first-ever economics festival over the weekend, a unique blend of tragedy and satire. Sharing the same stage, economists and stand-up comedians tried to get a grip on the state of the nation as Ireland attempts to stave off an international bailout.
Slashing the number of Dail TDs to 100, abolishing the Seanad, getting rid of ministerial cars and putting a cap of €100,000 on the wages of all public servants and bankers were some specific proposals.
These won't plug the massive hole in our finances but they would show that people in power had a "social conscience" -- and put us on track again, organiser David McWilliams said.
Mr McWilliams brought a panel of international experts including Argentina's former Economics Minister Martin Lousteau to the festival. He said he hoped to mobilise the public against government policies that favoured repaying the overwhelming debts rather than negotiating a partial default, as other nations had done.
"Knowledge is power, and it's very hard for ordinary people to understand how Ireland has got itself in this mess, and how colossal that mess truly is. They've let our Government take us to the cliff edge," Mr McWilliams said.
With panel discussions named "What If?" "How Bad Could it Get?" and "The Best Way to Rob a Bank Is to Own One," the festival blended irreverence with debates about the mismanagement of banks, the dynamics of debt defaults and the best course for Ireland to take.
"Kilkenomics has definitely provided a forum for the anger that many people are feeling," stand-up Colm O'Regan said. O'Regan concluded one set by describing the modern Irish version of Rapunzel. "Rapunzel lived in a tower," O'Regan deadpans. "But that tower was in a ghost estate. And the builder hadn't put in any stairs."
During the event, it was decided that a website would be set up laying down 10 conditions that politicians would be asked to sign up to.