11 March 2013

Two Years On


Unkie Dave caught in the act of "rescuing" an UpStart poster
Wexford St, Dublin, March 4th, 2011
You might have missed it, but last week the Government held a very public display of celebratory DoubleSpeak. To mark the occasion of the two year anniversary of their rise to power, they held a press event complete with its own hashtag to tell the nation why, despite everyone's actual day-to-day experiences, we are better off now than we were two years ago.

When delivering a presentation, there is normally a simple format to follow to get one's message across, you tell the audience what you will say, then you tell your audience what you are saying, then you finish by telling them what you have just said. Repetition is comprehension. Sadly, unlike whispering "Candyman" five times in a mirror, endlessly telling the nation with the maddening regularity of a brimful of Asha on a broken 45 that we have "turned a corner" will not magically make a recovery appear.

Beyond the hurricane of hyperbolic spin emanating from Kildare Street, the simple facts are undeniable. We are all poorer than we were two years ago, our taxes are higher and the services we receive for them are worse. Unemployment levels are unforgivable, and the only reason they aren't even higher is because of emigration, what Fintan O'Toole has referred to as the release valve of Irish societal pressure and what our children will greedily call "The Gathering: 2063". The burden of public debt placed upon the shoulders of these future generations is of an order of magnitude so great that the citizenry simply can't imagine it, and so focus their own wrath and ire on pocket-book protests like the Household Tax and Septic Tank charges. 

Yet even these token protests against injustice miraculously go unreported, for while there are never enough reporters for the State meeja to cover civic unrest outside the Dail itself, there are licence-fees to spare, it seems, enough to fly half of Montrose to Rome at the drop of a hat to report breathlessly and non-stop on the convoluted machinations of an old man trying desperately to escape indictment for crimes against humanity. Conviction? Nein danke, we'll just move him to another parish.

"We must all share the burden" comes the Kildare Street refrain, except, quelle surprise, for the mansion-owners and millionaires, the politicians and their donors who bankrupted our nation with their gambling addictions fuelled by a desperate need to ape their Cheltenham and Ascot-going blue-blooded UK counterparts whose respect and acceptance they've craved every moment of every day since their grandparents found Independence inconveniently thrust upon them, and now answer every phone call with the words, "It's pronounced 'Bouquet'!".

"We're all in this together" is Hiberno-English for "sod the poor, we can always make more of them if we need to".

"There is no alternative" is its companion phrase, and for once (sadly) the Kildare Street Massive are right. Labour seem ignorant of the meaning of either "social" or "democrat", and believe "socialists" are those dodgy despots who squander precious oil resources on the proletariat instead of building gleaming phalluses of glass in the desert. The Real Left™ has collapsed under the weight of its own Leninist vanguard shenanigans and infighting both painfully predictable and Pythonesque, a move that actually manages to make the Shinners look like a plausible alternative ("aye, sure, we did all the murder an' bombin' an' all, but look, we're on Twitter now an' we have a teddy bear. Isn't he so cute? Sure, how could ye all stay mad at a teddy bear?"). Of course the Irish public aren't quite ready to test drive the all new Kia Provo, and you couldn't actually put the fate of the country in the hands of a few Independents (sure how can you trust folks without a Cumman behind them?), so who can the citizenry turn to to fix all the problems caused by fourteen years of Fianna Fail mismanagement?

According to the last few opinion polls, that would be Fianna Fail.

The sound you hear between my uncontrollable sobs is the contents of my stomach, slowly embracing the floor in a Jackson Pollock entitled Anniversary 2, 2013.

Perhaps I missed the point of the press conference, perhaps I wasn't listening too closely. Perhaps the whole event was an incredibly open and honest exercise in Government transparency. "No lies," they were saying, "No spin. No half-truths or exaggerations. The simple fact is that we are better off than we were two years ago, and we have the data to prove it... but by "we", of course, we mean "us", the Taoiseach, Táinaste, thirteen Cabinet Ministers and fifteen Ministers of State, with our salaries and pensions, perks and privileges. Simply speaking the truth, we've never had it so good".

Two years on and the only corner we've turned is off Tragedy Avenue and straight down Farce Boulevard.

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