Opinion Letters

Friday 17 January 2020

Read their lips!

• No income tax increases (but over €3bn to be taken from the economy). No college fees (but €3,000 plus per annum in "registration" fees). Unemployment "levelling off" (but over 1,000 young people emigrating each week). A jobs creation package (with over 6,000 to be let go from the public sector). Salary cuts to top-earning state workers (but the State is not hiring). It all reads like a chapter from Orwell's 'Animal Farm'.

The media are likely to make much of these ironies. However, one might ask if we are not a little to blame for the incongruities between what our Government is saying and doing?

In fairness to the Government, it has no choice but to implement cuts in a manner that is least painful to voters. Not surprisingly, cuts are most acutely experienced by the poor and marginalised, generally because these are less likely to be voters.

On the surface, politicians must play the media game of democratic politics; with the promises that voters want to hear. At some point, we might ask ourselves how we have evolved our politics in such a manner that politicians must be duplicitous in order to be most successful? What is important here is not to consistently expose the duplicities, but rather to ask why politics cannot function without them? Is this duplicity something we are covertly dependent upon?

Our Government must play by the same rules which presided over the recent squandering of a century's worth of national wealth. A profligacy that has left most of us with little more than a millennium candle as a souvenir of our former economic virility.

It is foolish for us to imagine that politics has changed simply because there are some fresh suits about the cabinet table. Both the mechanics and the machine remain exactly the same.

Because the course remains unchanged, the remedial policy of the Coalition is entirely predictable: liberal use of empty promises by way of anaesthesia, strategic use of the scalpel to remove some fat from vital organs, continued but restrained application of the same old leeches, encourage the national blood-let of emigration, and await revival of the markets.

Greed is arguably the reason why the rules of politics have remained unchanged for so long.

Unless we begin to ask ourselves the same question which Tolstoy poses in his classic 'How much Land Does a Man Need?', we run the risk of being identified by a more enlightened generation, as being partial to, if not entirely dependent upon, the duplicity which defines the politics of today.

Dr Marcus de Brun
Rush, Co Dublin

Irish Independent

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