Government impasse hits private sector workers most

It’s now more than 47 days since that momentous general election when, as a result of our selection of Tom, Dick, and Harry, we are now unable to put together a government.

It’s true that on one occasion back in the day it took around 48 days to put together a Government, but that’s really not likely to happen at this stage given that there is only a glimmer of an agreement. But we should never say never.

Who knows but both Micheál and Enda may have something up their sleeves in addition to their arms.

It’s not likely, but who knows — stranger things have happened.

After all, we have one man with nothing to lose and another with everything to lose.

Now, there are those who have been asking over the last several weeks if we even need a Government, given that it appears that is business as usual.

It would be nice to think that is so — we’d save a lot of money.

But let’s not fool ourselves for one minute that all is all right in the stable.

We might think oftentimes that our politicians are not answerable to us. They are, ultimately.

There are elections every so often and they should be well and truly cleansed of any notion of permanence after that last election.

However, there is another force which is truly unanswerable to us.

That is the permanent government, as in the senior public servants who run this country on a day-to-day basis.

They are, nominally, subject to the policies of whatever Government is in power.

In reality, Yes, Minister is the order of the day, particularly given the calibre of some of our ministers in recent decades.

For those very senior positions there is impunity, or at least it seems so.

Banishment is never to the Blaskets, as Charlie Haughey might have suggested to one or two lads in blue, but to an even better job in Europe with even better retirement terms.

Indeed, more than one of Fianna Fáil’s and Fine Gael’s rising stars, who need to move on, have gone the same route.

For months before the election, parties one and all, in a desperate bid to be elected or returned to power, promised the sun, the earth, the moon, and the stars.

Those promises included increasing the salaries of public servants or returning them to pre-recession levels if you wish to use union- speak.

They did so in the clear knowledge that our economy is still far from being secure.

We continue to borrow billions every year.

We are in hock up to our necks. The vast bulk of people, particularly those who must live with the vagaries of the private sector, know that it’s going to be a long time until we can safely plan again.

The distinct possibility of Britain leaving the EU — a Brexit, and all that it implies — is looming.

The world economy is seriously shaky — just check out bank shares.

The major countries of Europe are in serious turmoil as they try to figure out what to do with more than a million new refugees and migrants even as their own economies are still far from being fully safe.

All is not well with the world’s economy.

One would think that our caretaker government and the major opposition political parties would be aware and take these issues into account in their efforts to take the reins of power.

You would think they might take us into account.

As we probably head for another election — one that is unlikely to solve the impasse — watch for the promises of largesse to all and sundry.

Already the public sector — civil servants, gardaí et al — are all gearing up to get back to the bad old habits.

The permanent government, while it might urge caution, has skin in the game. Indeed, so have politicians. But at least we get to give them a kick every so often.

The only people with much to lose are the poor suckers in the private sector. The bad news, of course, is that without a flourishing private sector, there’ll be nothing for those who rely on taxes. And they think this can go on forever.


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