Payback time for the taxpayer
• I enjoyed reading that Bernie Madoff's brother is to have all his money taken off him and that he will spend the rest of his life in prison. Apparently this is not for participating in the fraud, but rather for not having stopped it happening. Stealing money seems to be illegal in America. Obviously, Ireland has had quite a few ponzi artists and crooks identified in recent years but as far as I know none of them has received so much as a parking ticket. It was fortunate that all their bad gambles landed on the taxpayer and the wife was left holding only the winning ticket stubs.
The problem is that in Ireland, for historical reasons, imposing law and order is seen as inherently colonial, so we severely handicap our own efforts. We spend €300m on tribunals and after 15 years we have nothing we can act on. We pour billions into rescuing banks which have behaved corruptly, but we have hardly any say over their management. I ignored a Roma woman begging and she spat at my back. Apparently in Romania they are not allowed to beg on the streets at all. We can't even convince cyclists to stop at red lights, so I suppose it is ludicrous to think we'd arrest ponzi artists or crooked developers. In England they lock up MPs just for fiddling expenses.
Right now the man on the street is being bled dry to cover losses incurred by the chosen few. Telling someone we need to cut your salary and increase your taxes while leaving your mortgage the same is only practical if the mortgage accounts for a small portion of their outlay, which is very rare. People cannot give up food to pay the mortgage. You can feel the anger of people around the city as drivers honk horns at each other, cyclists plough into pedestrians and God help anyone who gets in the way of a woman wielding an umbrella with the blinding wire sticking out.