• On the eve of yet another austerity Budget, it's timely to ask – what if we hadn't bailed out the banks? Would we be better off, would we be worse off?
I could dazzle you with numbers at this stage; the €115bn in bonds that our failed banks have paid out since the ill-advised blanket bank guarantee of September 2008 (and let's not bother here with the equally ill-advised circumstances in which that guarantee was given), the €69.7bn we have pumped into our banks (including the oft-overlooked €5.5bn NAMA donation), which translates to over €15,200 of debt for every resident of this State – man, woman and child.
I could point to the ironic symmetry that is developing and ask two very pertinent questions.
First, the €12.4bn in austerity budget cuts/taxes over the years 2012/13/14 and 2015 (€3.8bn+€3.5bn+ €3.1bn+€2bn), the €12.4bn total in promissory notes over the same period (€3.1x4). For whose benefit is all this austerity?
Second, the €67.5bn in loans promised by the troika of IMF/ EU/ECB under the Memorandum of Enslavement of November 2010, against the above-mentioned €69.7bn that we've given to the banks – who bailed out who?
Finally, the emigration numbers, the 7,000 who left every month for the last 12 months, the misery that they left behind.
All these things we can measure and already, looking at the numbers above, you must wonder – given that we still don't have a functioning banking system; given also that so many of those at the top within that banking system who got us into this mess are still there and still drawing massive salaries, who in God's name thinks the bank bailout has been worth all of that?
This is about more than numbers, however. There is one element that's always overlooked, an element unquantifiable.
What price our freedom, what price our independence, what price the soul of a nation?
Charleville, Co Cork