Thursday, April 2, 2009

Election for election's sake

We start with The Economist:
A general willingness to give Mr Obama the benefit of the doubt was palpable even among the exuberant anti-capitalist demonstrators jamming the streets of London’s financial district—a minority of whom turned violent and clashed with police as they attacked a branch of the Royal Bank of Scotland. “He’s got good morals,” conceded a graffiti artist called Monkey, while helping his friend scale a traffic light and drape a banner: it depicted a grim reaper clutching fistfuls of banknotes.

Funny how good nature can transcend even the bitterest of opinions. A politician is supposed to inherit all of our hatred and scorn for simply being what he is. When we are young, our mothers teach us two things - 1. Don't do that, and 2. All politicians are gangsters. It's the way of the world.

But as I type, the G20 leaders are nearing consensus on how to tackle the global economic crisis. All twenty of them! From the preening Sarkozy to the house of Saud. The magnitude of this agreement, should it come to pass, cannot be understated. And a great deal of that is due, it must be said, to a collective willingness to side with Barack Obama. The magnetism of his popular support also crosses the seas, it seems.

Why? Because he is fresh, he is new, he is purposeful and he has a specific mandate for the times we are in.
Fianna Fail and Brian Cowen do not.

The emergency budget is only days away, and already it is hard to see where the inspiration and the clear thinking is coming from. All the noises coming from cabinet point to cuts across the board, and tax hikes in all directions (including VAT and income taxes). By the end of April, we'll be lucky if we have any disposable income left.

But that isn't the problem. Even if the Taoiseach was to find some forward-thinking, creative package for the nation, the nation would not believe him. He, his Tanaiste, his Minister for Finance and his entire party have, through a litany of fumbles, mis-statements and abuses of power (paintings, paintings, paintings) lost all the faith of the Irish people.

Their generic last line of defence in the face of this criticism has been that a change of government would not solve anything, so great are the problems we all face.

Not true.

A new government would have at least 18 months of goodwill and a mandate based on the here and now. Standards and Poor's caught a tongue lashing of sorts this week for suggesting new ideas for our car crash economy would probably only come from new government. Those words may prove a blessing.

If it takes the agitations of outsiders to wake us up, so be it.

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