Thursday, January 8, 2009

Competition: Win a Pint!

I am opening a competition for the richest pickings of the quotes descriptive of our brilliant Leaders! Send them on to me for posting here. Winner (quality, not quantity matters) gets a pint with True Economics!

Forgive me, but I could not resist a handful of quotes from that literature of absurd masterpiece - the
Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - that aptly describe our state of governance.

(1) Last Sunday, in a well-publicised interview with RTE, Mr Cowen - Ireland's Taoiseach/PM - has evaded the only straight question asked - the question of whether he was ready, as a leader of the country facing an unprecedented economic crisis to do what it takes to get the job done. Instead of a straight 'Yes, I am', our nation's leader mumbled something along the lines that the whole thingy of governing in a crisis is a matter of reaching a consensus. Now, recall the following:

"My doctor says that I have a malformed public-duty gland and a natural deficiency in moral fibre and that I am therefore excused from saving universes."

Close enough...

"The mere thought," Mr Prosser said "hadn't even begun to speculate about the slightest possibility of crossing my mind."

Neither did a mere thought of standing his ground against the narrow political interest groups tearing into the fabric of our economy cross Mr Cowen's mind, despite the fact that as last week's Exchequer figures for 2008 revealed, he is now facing a fiscal crisis of unprecedented (by our historical record and relative to any other OECD country) proportions. To remind you, the General Government Deficit of 2008 was a cumulative 17.3 billion Euro relative to 2006, marking a second year of deficit financing and a 22% fall in revenue in Q4 2008 compared to Q4 2007!

"Curiously enough, the only thing that went through the mind of the bowl of petunias as it fell was: Oh no, not again!"

The current Cabinet is, like that bowl of petunias, seemingly incapable of assessing the simple cause-effect chain of logic that links planned over-commitment of public funds to fiscal deficits. Over the last 8 years, Irish Government, effectively the same Government we have today, has presided over public spending boom that outpaced private economy growth 2:1. And yet, curiously enough, neither our Department of Finance, nor its Ministers (including Mr Cowen), nor the rest of the Government have seen anything wrong with this dynamic.

Or to quote the Guide again:
"You know," said Arthur, "it's at times like this, when I'm trapped in a Vogon airlock with a man from Betelgeuse, and about to die of asphyxiation in deep space that I really wish I'd listened to what my mother told me when I was young."
"Why, what did she tell you?"
"I don't know, I didn't listen."

Oh, dear...

(4) With Irish tax revenues now at 2005 levels and public spending commitments at their height, Government's silence on the issue of public sector reforms is an equivalent to the Hitchhiker's description of the inner workings of the '(im)probability drive' engine:

"Please do not be alarmed," it said, "by anything you see or hear around you. You are bound to feel some initial ill effects as you have been rescued from certain death at an improbability level of two to the power two hundred and seventy-six thousand to one against – possibly much higher. We are now cruising at a level of two to the power of twenty-five thousand to one against and falling, and we will be restoring normality just as soon as we are sure of what is normal anyway."

If only our Two Brians & Mary can get an economic concept of 'normality'...

(5) Irish Government plan for economic revival is a direct reference to the following quote:
"Please relax," said the voice pleasantly, like a stewardess in an airliner with only one wing and two engines, one of which is on fire, "you are perfectly safe."

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