Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Budget Unbalancing Act!
There's stress and there's stress. I listened to a woman speaking to Brian Lenihan on the traditional post budget phone-in on Pat Kenny's radio show on RTE Radio 1 today. She was stressed. She told us of her situation and how her disposable income was so low and her future so uncertain that she couldn't sleep anymore. And what did Brian have to say? He told her he was stressed too after having to bring in two budgets in less than a year! Awwwww poor Brian!
Poor Brian my eye. Firstly, the reason he has had to bring in two budgets in under six months is his own and his parties fault. They have been standing watch - and obviously looking out over the stern of the good ship Ireland when they should have seen this on the radar and taken evasive action. And secondly, stress, real stress, is not knowing where the money to pay the next bill is coming from, or how you are going to meet all your committments.
No matter how stressed poor Brian is, none of it affects him personally. He has heaps of money in his personal coffers with his outrageous pay! His kids schooling or college doesn't put a dent in his earnings. He's not worried at the 1st of the month that the mortgage repayment is going to put him over his over-draft limit. He's not delaying taking his child to the doctor because he can't afford the €50! That's real stress.
He was also very 'holier than thou' (is it me or does he have a tendency to be very preachy?) in his attitude to people who shop over the border seeking better value. "This is what they get", he said. Well the government itself has shopped abroad and continues to do so - in outsourcing cervical smear screening to the USA as the cheapest bidder. So whats good enough for them is too good for us? Outsourcing those tests cost jobs and earnings to this economy, not to mention loss of expertise - a whole industry really but they're not smacking themselves on the knuckles for their own temerity is this little endevour. A case of do what I say, not what I do.
The budget, has, as I feared it would, been and unbalanced one. It has focussed more on taking money rather than saving on inefficiencies. It cannot be right that there are around 47,000 admin and management staff in the HSE to just 62,000 frontline staff! Everyone, from the President down, needs to take a pay cut. But costs need to go down too. The Minister talks about us taking a drop in our living standards, but most prices are not actually going down despite some fancy statistics. The Doctor still costs the same. The dentist still costs the same. The mortgage might be going down a little but your income is down by more.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: there should be a General Election. Right, they've brought in the budget now and that's it for the year. So they should do the decent thing and go and seek a mandate for this new era and the type of policies that are required to deal with it. I still believe that they ran the last election on false promises but that's neither here nor there anymore.
Too much has changed and too much is being lost. People have the right to have these policies debated wholly and in the open and they have the right to make their choices based on all this new information.
Go to the Country Fianna Fáil. If you have the courage of your convictions.

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