Monday 21 October 2019

Jody Corcoran: Very few stars on our horizon


AS we stand on the threshold of another year there are few, if any, stars on the horizon that may bring good news of great joy.

In their Christmas message, the Catholic bishops divine to offer some hope at a time when little hope exists other than within the confines of our own will.

By now it seems as though the bishops atone by routine: "We are deeply sorry that so many people have felt hurt, betrayed and shaken in their faith," they said. Again.

Unmoved, these are the words we remember: "This is the Republic of Ireland 2011," Enda Kenny said in July in a powerful denunciation of the swish of the soutane which, he said, had smothered conscience and humanity for so long. That same Mr Kenny must soon turn then most graciously to Europe to advocate thine eyes of mercy towards us.

For all their faults, the bishops, in their message, are acutely conscious, as we all are, of the many homes where pressure on family life has never been greater.

Yes, the safety nets of the State exist, but the struggle will become greater still, the inequality more extreme, as "ordinary people" come to terms with a raft of demands that reach further into their pockets. Sean Quinn had sought to portray himself as an ordinary man who also happened to be, at one stage, the richest man in Ireland before the tide went out in Cavan.

The bank that was Anglo hopes to recover €500m, from the fortune wrapped in real estate around the globe, which is owed to the people of Ireland. The image will long endure of Quinn hiding out behind the gates of his palatial estate by a lake to avoid a man with a summons.

Until recently an unknown economist, a man the tabloids might call the carrot-topped Stephen Donnelly, emerges today as the one true voice of opposition at a time when everybody you might expect to reach for the stars seems lost in a haze of insiders' flatulence.

This Christmas, Mr Kenny is readying himself to barter away what remains of our economic freedom in return for all he can get, a more equitable spread of the debts of the banks of Europe, not just on the citizens of Ireland, but on the citizens of Europe.

The citizens of Europe did us no harm. We wish them no harm. What harm was done was by ourselves, unknowingly; by politicians, who should have known; and by bankers, here and abroad, who did know.

Of itself, then, the Taoiseach's mission is still an inequitable solution to a monstrous injustice. The moneylenders continue to throw their dice in the Temple. There is no moral hazard for them.

As Donnelly rails, and rightly so, the insiders' stench dictates that there will be no debt forgiveness for the little man.

Moral hazard is a concept. A concept is formed from an inference. The laws of valid inference derive from the field of logic. But what logic? The insiders' logic is the fallacy of the little man. By accident or design, fallacies exploit emotional triggers, which can be used to win an argument regardless of merit.

Debt relief is the issue that will not go away. In that, there is some merit.

Sunday Independent

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