Bread and circuses will be all we have left

A third of the electorate vote at the children’s rights referendum — and only 60% of those in favour — and our Taoiseach and his buddies behave as if all our troubles are over.

Can you imagine what would happen if they did actually achieve something of note that we could all support? So rather than keeping its proverbial mouth shut, the Government decides it’s time we had a referendum on same-sex marriage. We go from what should have been a “slam-dunk” win where the referendum subject was close to proverbial “motherhood and apple pie” that everybody could vote for, to one that will be seriously divisive. It’s surreal.

If we ever needed a clear signal that the Government is in serious trouble and has lost its bearings, we have just been handed it on a plate. That old saying, “it’s hard to remember that your original intention was to drain the swamp when you’re up to your neck in crocodiles”, holds true.

You might think that our lads and lassies are trying to bring more crocodiles into the swamp to make matters worse or, alternatively, they are trying to get us to focus on the crocodiles rather than on their swamp-draining competence. Perhaps their intention is a lot more basic than that. We may well be back to the days of the Roman Empire when the citizens were distracted from their problems by “bread and circuses”.

Mind you, we should not be surprised that they are trying to divert our attention. We are in the worst economic downturn in living memory and the folk tasked to deal with it appear not to have a clue. Relying on big daddy Europe just isn’t working, as the major players have a close eye on domestic politics and, just like our own lads, on the next election.

Stasis is the order of the day, with the German chancellor holding tough in the hope of winning her national elections next October. It’s going to be a long year.

It’s hard to understand why our politicians are not doing anything about the absolute inequalities in how they are dealing with our problems. In fact, it’s actually worse than not doing anything — they are simply refusing to do anything on some pretext or another. All reports and “kite-flying” suggest the Government’s intention is to hammer the have-nots and those barely keeping their heads above water yet again. The gougers at the top of the public sector, politics, business, and banking — major contributors to our downturn — once again appear immune. If they are troubled, it will be bits and pieces around the edges.

Yesterday’s papers set out some of the impositions intended. Grant Thornton found a family of four, with a joint income of €80k and a house worth €200k, will be paying €3,250 extra next year, or an increase of 22% on this year. A similar family on €40k will pay €490 more. The other week, we read about the garda on €75k per annum resorting to the basics to survive, at least according to his missus.

Add to all of that the ongoing bus and train fares increases promised, carbon tax, and all of the other stealth taxes that will inevitably surface and it makes for serious imposition.

Where does the Government think this money is going to come from? The “masters of the world”, who brought this country to its knees and who continue to feel only minimal pain, think the vast majority of people can manage a continuously reducing budget and survive when they themselves could not control budgets of billions without royally screwing it up. It is way past cop-on time. Thinking we are all sheep is a big mistake, particularly if folk are pushed so far into a corner they no longer have anything to lose.

Politicians should know that there are those among their own ranks who would relish the prospect.

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