Kicked, beaten and dazed -- so who will we let screw us next?
Once we were held up by the EU as a shining example, now we're being publicly tarred and feathered, writes Brendan O'Connor
SO who is next? Who's next to come and have a go off us. We've been given rohypnol now and tied to a chair and left there so everyone can come up and have a go -- a kick, a punch, maybe just a spit in our face. We barely know who's who anymore. We've gone into a kind of toxic-shock daze, whereby it's all blending into one. And somehow we keep taking it; partially because we can't quite believe it is happening. And also, of course, because they keep telling us it's not happening. They are messing with our heads. They visit some new awfulness on us and then tell us it never happened.
Brian Cowen said on Thursday that the bonuses paid to people in the public sector weren't, in fact, bonuses. The EU tells us that the extortionate interest rates they are charging us -- three per cent over the rate at which EU countries can borrow money -- are actually the same core interest rates and it's our own confusion that has made us think we are paying a coupon of three per cent on the EU part of the loan. The EU gave us a punch in the face and told us it was a kiss. They announced to us one Sunday that they were going to give us a friendly "bailout" and then announced what is effectively a subprime mortgage we have no hope of ever paying back. They told us we were lending ourselves a quarter of the money and the rest of it would cost, on average, about 6 per cent. Bizarrely, having now signed the IMF agreement into law, there still seems to be confusion among our politicians as to what the actual interest rate is. But we are apparently supposed to be thankful for it.
The IMF deal is a joint mugging by our politicians and the Eurocrats. It increasingly sounds like the IMF would have given us a reasonable deal, given their only interest was actually to bail us out and get us going again. Europe had other motives, apparently. Apart, that is, from the basic motive of wanting us to pay back their banks. It now emerges that our interest rate was jacked up to make an example of us, to stop other people from misbehaving the way we have. Which again feels like they are messing with our heads, because, until recently, they were the ones falling over themselves to hail us as an example of good behaviour.