Ireland’s Exchequer Cuts

Today, following the failure of the Social Partners to agree details of pay cuts, the government announced a pensions levy on the salaries of all public service employees.  This will work out on average at about an extra 7.5% deduction, though higher-paid workers will pay higher percentages.

Now, ninety per cent of a large number is still a large number, and a top civil servant, who was formerly earning 250 thousand, will no doubt be able to struggle by somehow on the remaining 225 thousand.  But I’m not that interested in highly-paid people who can look after themselves.  You see, at the other end of the scale, a reduction in a small number produces an even smaller number and I’m wondering this: what about the street-sweepers?  Or the road labourers?  Or the junior clerk who checks your books out of the library?  These are the members of the working poor, and they are not the ones who brought about the current financial crisis in Ireland.

These are not the people who stupidly remortgaged their homes to buy apartments in Bulgaria.  These are not the people who took out mortgages greater than the value of their house so that they could buy fancy cars.  These are not the ones who squirreled away €120 million in secret loans, discrediting and destabilising the banking system in the process.  These are far from Masters of the Universe.

While a top health service administrator might have to economise, the cuts in his salary are only biting into fat, but cuts at the bottom end of the scale are eating into bone.  It costs the same to heat a poor man’s house as it does to heat a rich man’s and there are many families in this country without any room at all to economise because they simply don’t have luxuries to give up.

Higher on the salary scale a little bit, you’ve seen me writing here about nurses’ pay in the past.  I think these people have been disgracefully treated, patronised, bullied and intimidated into covering for the shortcomings of a failed, misconceived health structure.  They’ve been exposed to moral blackmail in order to prop up a disastrously inefficient administrative tangle.  And now these people will be demonised and blamed for the financial mismanagement of this country, which was created by this appalling government and its cronies in the banks and the construction industry.  I could make similar points in defence of firefighters, paramedics or even our police, much though I’ve criticised them in the past.

I won’t call what happened in Ireland an unholy alliance. I’ll call it what it was: a criminal conspiracy to bleed this country dry.  It worked, and now we need scapegoats, but we won’t be blaming the red-nosed, drooling builders in the Fianna Fáil money-tent at the Galway races.   Nor will we be blaming these same politicians who presided year by year over unprecedented exchequer returns, and who refused to acknowledge the reality of the bubble these returns were based on, in case it hurt their builder buddies and interrupted the kickbacks.  Nor will we be blaming the bankers who shovelled out 110% loans to fools and collected their fat bonuses in return. No indeed.  We won’t be blaming those who run our banks and who should right now be in jail but who, instead, are being given the pensions of the street sweepers and the nurses to bail them out.

We need scapegoats, so let’s blame people like firemen, police, paramedics, nurses, junior doctors, library assistants, street cleaners, home helps and all the other high rollers.

And while we’re at it, let’s blame the workers in places like Waterford Crystal, and Dell, and Banta for getting a living wage.  Let’s accuse them of greed.

But let’s say nothing about our Prime Minister who pays himself more than the President of the USA, or the hospital consultants who keep our health service in a money-making stranglehold, aided and abetted by their ideological allies, the PDs.  Nor should we say anything about these Tribunal lawyers who demanded and got €2000 per day and who were given the right to decide how long the tribunals would go on, and how much waffling they chose to do, at â€2000 per day.  Let’s not talk about that.

And let’s not blame a government that spent €50 million on an unworkable electronic voting system, or €200 million on an IT system for the health service that didn’t work.  Small money, as Minister Noel Dempsey might have remarked.

And let’s not ask energy multinationals to pay anything for our natural gas reserves, but instead let’s deploy 200 policemen to beat protesters out of the road.

And let’s not ask why this government gave away our national telecommunications network for half nothing to an asset stripper, leaving us helpless to introduce effective broadband at a time when we vitally need it.

And let’s not ask clerical sex abusers to pick up the billion-euro tab for compensating their victims, or make them sell their lands or their gold or their art treasures.  No indeed.  Instead let the taxpayer come up with the money.

This country is full of self-serving cabals, secret societies and vested interests who have held it by the throat since its birth.  For a while, many ordinary workers naively bought into a dream, actively promoted by this government, that they might somehow share in the riches controlled by these small groups, these few elite families, these anointed.  And the fools went and mortgaged their houses, bought their Spanish villas and convinced themselves they were high rollers too, until reality came crashing down on them as it had to in the end when the upside-down pyramid toppled over.

And now, they’re losing their jobs.  They’re losing their houses.  They’re losing their minds.

But let’s not blame the millionaires, or the billionaires, the bankers, the lawyers or the political apes who decided the direction of our economy and who poured away ten years of unimaginable prosperity, cynically purchasing one election after another.

No.  Let’s not look in that direction.  Instead, let’s pin the blame on the nurses and the teachers and the firemen.  Let’s stick it to the factory workers and the shop assistants

The bastards.



What would Jesus do to find €20 billion?



31 thoughts on “Ireland’s Exchequer Cuts

  1. Yeah but didn’t Turlough of IBEC take a 6% cut so its only that high rollers like myself share his pain and take a 7.5% cut. He better pray his house doesn’t catch fire or he needs an ambulance any time soon.

  2. My vote for best sentence: “This country is full of self-serving cabals, secret societies and vested interests who have held it by the throat since its birth.”

    May it go on the base of your statue a century from now, Bock.

  3. I’m a pubic sector plod who just ambled along the last few years doing alright out of a bit of overtime in the lab. I’ll take this hit because I can afford it at the moment. The alternative doesn’t bear thinking about. I think the reason they have hit the public sector is because it is a sitting duck. I made little during the boom because I am pleb when it comes to money. Likewise fat cats cleaned up because they understand money. As a result I don’t think the government could get a hold of the bastards money even if they wanted to. Similarly I, and many other small time public sector people are fleeced because we can’t hide it from them and probably wouldn’t be able to figure out how to do it even if it were possible.

  4. I guess people will stop wanting to be low paid civil servants and so all those jobs you mentioned will have to be privatised, in the national interest of course, and I’m sure those contracts will be tendered in an open and ethical manner. Of course it would be economicly unfeasable to ask private hospitals to accept patients with medical cards, or stand in the way of the free market by listening to unions.
    You see Bock, you seemed to be making perfect sense until you used the words; criminal conspiracy, cabals and secret societies, and completly invalidated your arguement. Obviously you’re a nut, spending too much time with his nose in a book or on the internet. Relax. Stop seeing the world for what it is and start seeing it how you wish it was. Go and watch some telly. Some nice warm fuzzy telly… and go back to sleep…

  5. Excellent Bock. As you stated:
    “This country is full of self-serving cabals, secret societies and vested interests who have held it by the throat since its birth”;
    hence after circa eighty-six years, their cover is blown.
    To c’est la craic: go study history and nuts are good for you!

  6. Excellent Bock.

    You have roused me from my hibernation / depression to post on this over at mine.

    I am a public service worker

    This latest decision is just another in a long line of proof that we are being “governed” by people who are not fit to govern.

  7. Take a bow, Bock. You deserve it after such a fine speech.

    Not to sure about this bit though..

    “but we won’t be blaming the red-nosed, drooling builders in the Fianna Fáil money-tent at the Galway races.”

    Ahh but, it was only a few hundred euros I lent your man.

  8. You have captured the rage and helplessness felt by so many.Well done.Though,with the demonization of public service workers by vested interests, aided by the media, will probably mean they wont get much sympathy.

  9. Well Bock, at least they confined the punishment to public servants, which are ex hypothesi taxpayers. Rich bastards in their little third-hand Nissans and Golfs, with stylish clothes from Dunnes and Penneys and hush puppy shoes. Living in lovely terraced houses, with social neighbours. Wouldn’t it have been a shame if they’d taken 7.5% off the milk cheques, and the single farm payment. Wouldn’t it have been scandalous if they’d levied the sales at marts. Wouldn’t you be appalled if they gave up good old green diesel and charged the full VAT on it. I mean, you almost have to sell a site now to be able to afford a decent 4×4 for yourself and the wife – things are not what they were. Any kind of a jeep is 100k now really, and boy, do they use diesel when you have the aircon up full.
    With all this bad weather, there’s fierce doom and gloom about. Scent is poor, so you could be riding to hounds four days a week and not see a fox. Those bastards in the public service in nice heated portacabins just fifty miles from their houses have a great life indeed.


  10. BOCK, you wrote; ‘a criminal conspiracy to bleed this country dry’; and with copy and paste I can reprint it word for word here. However, as a citizen directly affected by this Governments’ dictat, I can say that ‘copy’ is what Biffo has done. He has copied Nero’s tune from the first great empire that the known world was privvy to, he just can’t play the friggin’ harp is all!

  11. We are concerned Mr Bock.

    Your insight into the ways of Our former colony is intriguing.

    We are delighted that your Republic is exactly as We knew it would be.

    How well Our plan has worked.

    We withdraw from Empire and establish two useless oppositions and profit on the result.

    How do you know,

    “These are not the people who stupidly remortgaged their homes to buy apartments in Bulgaria.”

    Did We not provide them with every incentive to do just that?

    Are the people in your Republic not FREE to make their own decisions?

    Did your people not continually elect the Fianna Filth?

    Yes Mr Bock, We know that you think they are the Soldiers of Destiny, We on the other hand have always known them as the Soldiers of Filth.

    You may disagree, but then that’s what grownups do.

    Welcome to your grownup state. Or more precisely is it not time that your state evolved from Our (and of course We do not authorise this opinion) malign influence.

    Why are the people who audited your banks bound by an oath of loyalty to Our Gracious Queen Victoria?

    Yes Mr Bock, Our Charter governs your professions.

    And you are powerless to do anything about it.


    Bye the way, We wish you all the best in you’re becoming a failed state.

    We would be obliged if you all vote for Lisbon.

    It really would make Our project so much easier.

  12. Doesn’t Brian Dobson look particularly animated at the moment. I mean there is SOO much bad news it’s almost impossible for one to contain ones excitement…and the weather is shite too…….. Sorry Bock, I’m gone off the point but I’m just going nuts from all of this.

  13. “I think these people have been disgracefully treated, patronised, bullied and intimidated into covering for the shortcomings of a failed, misconceived health structure.”

    Mr Bock,

    You really are a card.

    If you continue with this opinion, it is possible that the duality (the Fianna Filth & the Fine Fuck Know Nothing) We have constructed for your amusement will have no value.

    If Our effort in this matter has no value We have no option other than to downgrade your ability as a former colony. We are speaking to Our loyal subjects in Standard & Poor’s, and consider that you and your Republic are at “A-“.

    We know that this will come as a shock, but you have to see it from Our side, We don’t want to loose money.

    We didn’t elect the Filth

    We just gave you the opportunity to do it on our behave.

  14. “This country is full of self-serving cabals, secret societies and vested interests who have held it by the throat since its birth. For a while, many ordinary workers naively bought into a dream, actively promoted by this government, that they might somehow share in the riches”

    “For a while” Mr Bock?

    We have imagined this from the outset of Our design.

    Look to your Professions Mr Bock.

    Why are they all Chartered?

  15. Great post, Bock.

    And it’s only the beginning. They have to find another 3 billion next year. Where’s that going to come from? Taxes?

  16. Best post ever Bock. I dont always agree with you, but you have expressed brilliantly what most of us feel. Thanks.

  17. Are you not being a bit over simplistic in your analysis Bock? Ok, its pretty much accepted that the blame for the current mess does lie with the big builders, developers, bankers and all those who over-reached themselves by buying multiple properties ‘leveraged’ on the back of the over-inflated prices of their family homes. Its agreed that Fianna Fail have royally fucked things up not only by their toxic relationship with the builders and developers but by allowing the economy to become completely dependant on sources of revenue that were, essentially, short term, windfall taxes. Its acknowledged that those on the higher incomes should now have to pay substantially more in taxes, be they taxes on wealth, property, income, whatever. However, the fact remains that the Government are looking at a shortfall of around €16 billion between what they are taking in and what their expenditure is, and this figure is getting bigger by the day. Increasing the tax base to take in more revenue from the high rollers will plug some of this gap but the Government have to, have to look at cutting spending and that means cutting back on the public service wage bill. Sure, they can look to exclude those on low pay, say those on below €40 grand. What they have announced is unfair to that extent. But some pain does need to be felt by the more well paid in the public service. Why? Because the pain is already being felt by those in the private sector. Unemployment is now at 330,000 and those joining the dole queues are not those losing their jobs from public sector jobs. Huge numbers of people working in the private sector are looking at either losing their jobs or taking large pay reductions. I hear nobody suggesting that those private sector employees that are taking this pain are being ‘blamed’ for the shitstorm we are now in. So why, when it is suggested that some of the pain be shared by public service employees (who, remember, are in secure employment), that yourself and the unions are saying that such employees are being made take the ‘blame’ for the mess we are in, that they are being ‘scapegoated’?

    Much play was made on the radio yesterday of a hospital porter who earns a pittance at present and whose pension will be only €97 per week. Of course someone like that should be exempt from whatever measures the Government takes. But questions need to be asked of David Begg and those in the unions as to how such shitty wage and pension conditions continue to exist after countless national pay deals in which higher civil and public servant were being awarded massive pay increases. Surely it was the job of the unions to insist on better pay conditions for the low paid before agreeing to any pay increases for those further up the scale. It’s an indictment on the union leaders that such low pay conditions exist in the public service.

  18. On the contrary.

    I’m saying that blame is being placed on all workers, both public and private sector, to distract attention from where the real responsibility lies.

    And what’s even more insidious, public-sector and private-sector workers are being turned against each other while those who caused this are walking away whistling.

  19. What was the tiger economy? For most workers all it meant was you could get a job if you wanted one.
    Everyone who made vast sums of money are still being protected, builders have told the banks to fuck off and wont even pay the interest on their loans.
    mind you a lot of people had their heads in the sand before the last election, and voted the same lot in.

  20. Ok Bock fair enough, I accept that your point did also refer to private sector workers being made take the blame. I’ve probably heard too many public sector union leaders trying playing the “ah-there-you-go-trying-to-blame-the-public-service” card while attempting to insulate their members from any form of pay cuts. The point is we are where we are and I don’t think some subliminal ‘divide and conquer’ strategy was needed to make ordinary private sector workers to look at the public sector and say “hang on, what about them taking a bit of a hit as well.”

    The hit that is made on public sector pay needs to be well thought out, it needs to be fair and equitable but it does need to be made. The previous Government allowed the stamp duty/VAT on house sales bubble fuel growth in the public sector pay bill that just was not sustainable when the bubble inevitably burst. Now, that is not to say we could not have supported the current size of the public sector if we had a more equitable and wider tax base but, hey, we voted for the gobshites.

  21. All I’d ask people to do is keep the focus where it belongs: on the fat cats. Politicians, property developers, bankers, bishops and the rest.

    Blaming PAYE workers is missing the point. Ask Shell E&P where your gas royalties are. Ask Cardinal Brady why you paid 1.2 billion to cover the abuse claims while his crowd gave almost nothing. Ask Brian Lenihan how much it will cost to recapitalise the Irish banks because all their assets are in toxic loans. 8 billion? Ten billion? Twenty billion? Nobody knows.

    Ask all those questions first, and then we can start on the workers.

  22. I heard there was a 1.6% pay rise on the table for Civil Servants earning over €93,000 on Monday night before the talk “broke down”

    I dunno whether or not it was approved or not though..

  23. When Brian Cowan and the rest of the cabinet stop comparing their salaries to Obama and Brown and decide to pay themselves the equivalent of the Belgian or Luxemburg counterparts then maybe they could talk to the rest of us about pay cuts and higher taxes.

  24. Exactly King’s Bard.

    To me this is bottom line. It really bothers me that our politicians are in their jobs purely for monetary gain, 99% of them anyway. There appears to be no genuine interest in the people that vote them in. They are a bland, brainless bunch of overpaid twits that have done a fantastic job of sending OUR nation down the shitter.And I also wish that they would stop putting themselves in the same category as other (proper) world leaders.

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