Ministers must raise our morale
WHEN it comes to a Government that faces more challenges than any administration in the history of the Republic, it might seem somewhat unfair to add another item to the list. But, as ministers enter a shortened holiday season, one of the most critical issues they must resolve is how to lift a national morale that has reached the sort of low last seen during what was called 'the hungry Fifties'.
In a public space now dominated by self-proclaimed pragmatic and celebrity economists, emotive concepts such as 'confidence' and 'morale' can be easily dismissed as being the sort of 'soft issue' best left to moral philosophers. Naturally, such economists believe that we must focus exclusively on making cuts and securing growth. But the irony is that such growth cannot occur unless the morale and, following on from that, the confidence of the people are rebuilt.
One of the great irritants for the Government is that the high street is in a state of ongoing decline because citizens are saving so much of their income. The reason for the rise in thriftiness and the fall in VAT receipts, however, is that the citizens of this State simply do not know if they will be in jobs next year or whether they will be able to pay their mortgages. Nor do they know if the State or the banks -- in which, ironically, they are putting their savings -- will default.