Aug 2009

Summer's not for blogging

Hey y’all.

Yeah, I’ve been absent for a while and am just about to head off to sunny Montenegro for two weeks. So I’ll be absent a while longer. Expect a return to semi-regular blogging in September. Summer’s just not the time for it.

I’ve not been writing as much as I’d like, and the two major projects that I’m working on have kind of stalled. But I’ve had quite a lot of ideas for them once I get back up and running — and frankly I’ve been enjoying the downtime. There’s the occasional pang of guilt about not getting stuff done, but it is very occasional… an echo of my long dead work ethic (it nearly killed me, I responded in kind). Summer is for drifting. For enjoying the company of a lovely lady and reminding yourself that it’s OK to live life effortlessly for a while — if you’re lucky enough to be in a position to do so. Neither work nor leisure. Amen to that, brother.

That said, there’s been plenty happening lately that would have drawn remark had I been actively blogging. The fact that the entire economy over here could collapse at any moment has added a certain edge to Irish politics just now… to Irish life in general in fact. Politicians and business leaders are looking increasingly like they’re not getting enough sleep.

The nation is bankrupt though nobody wants to be the first to put it in those terms. The bank guarantees are now the only thing propping up the financial system… but the bank guarantees will bankrupt the country if actually called upon.

There’s a vague hope that if the government can engineer a ‘Yes’ vote in our second Lisbon referendum (far from a foregone conclusion) that the EU might — just might — step in and help bail us out. The EU firmly denies that’s even possible, let alone likely.

But in the corridors of power in Europe the Irish have a single last-gasp ace in the hole. The uneasy thought in the minds of Europe’s bankers that while Ireland has clearly been the architect of its own downfall, it is actually small enough to bail-out. And the cost of that bail-out might well be cheaper than the impact on the single currency and Central Bank of a member state collapsing. Because nobody’s really sure what it means for a member of the Euro to go bankrupt. That’s just got to be an event with all manner of unexpected consequences.

Whatever happens though, one thing is certain, for a very long time we will all be paying for the follies of the last decade. And for the bizarre decisions made by the banking and construction sectors.

Don’t get me wrong. The entire country was possessed by that rampant Celtic Tiger. Every sector was making bizarre decisions. 4 million people embarked upon a decade-long binge. A bonfire of over-consumption with everyone eager to fan the flames. Politicians, retailers, banks, the hospitality sector, the auto industry, the land-developers… just everyone!

But although everyone was possessed by the same madness, it’s the land developers and bankers who created the vast majority of the debt. Approving loans based upon valuations that bear all the hallmarks of having been arrived at after an afternoon of champagne and cocaine. Tens of billions of euros just disappeariing.

Sadly, my own solution isn’t really catching on…

Phase I: Round them all up. Yes, every banker, developer and politician… in fact anyone at all who was a “decision maker” during the past 10 years. They know who they are and frankly should have the decency to step forward.

Phase II: Stick ’em all in one of those ghostly half-full developments that sprung up around Dublin during the boom. Homes built for an imaginary profit not because anyone actually wanted them. Keep them comfortable, well-fed and let them have all the Sky Channels for free. But keep them there.

Phase III: Nationalise everything (starting with every asset currently owned by Shell Oil in this country. Honestly, the gall of that company, selling our gas back to us at a profit!)

Phase IV: Come round to my place and ask me what to do with it all, now it’s been nationalised. I imagine Phases I through III will take a few weeks. I’ll have worked out what to do next by then (hint: it’ll probably involve a combination of private property rights, socialised services and collectivised production… think Cuba via Stockholm with a heavy dash of Deep Ecology).

Anyhoo, enjoy what’s left of the summer.

I’m planning to.

Posted in: Opinion