Monday, June 2, 2008

It Wasn't A Celtic Tiger After All...

What do all of these animals have in common?
Unicorn, Yeti, Bigfoot, Loch Ness Monster.
Well, not everyone believes they exist or ever did.
There are some who swear they saw the Abominable Snowman or Yeti in the Himilayas.
But, even though we know what it’s supposed to look like, there’s no proof there ever was such a creature.
Bigfoot has actually been filmed in the United States. But detractors say it was just an elaborate hoax and there is no Bigfoot.
The Loch Ness Monster has long been the subject of debate. There is one photograph said to be of the monster. But sceptics say it’s just a log floating down the lake.
And the Unicorn, well, only little children reading fairy tales believe there was ever a Unicorn.
There is another creature which is the subject of debate too, these days.
Most people on this island say they’ve seen it.
But others, like me, believe those people only think they’ve seen it. They have been persuaded by slick political campaigns that they have seen it. They have been told over and over again, that this creature can be seen almost anywhere in Ireland.
What creature is this?
It’s the Celtic Tiger.

So what does it look like?
Well, it looks like a shiny, expensive new car. It looks like a satellite dish and a 37 inch LCD television. It looks like an apartment in Spain or Turkey or Bulgaria. It looks like a bag of goodies from Sachs of Fifth Avenue or Bloomingdales. It looks like a new house. It looks like a large kitchen extension. It looks like a computer in every child’s room.
At least, that’s what we’re told it looks like.
Because if you look a little harder, you’ll see that it also looks like filthy hospital A&E areas, with sick people lying on trolleys for days. It looks like long waiting lists. It looks like a rampant MRSA bug. It looks like schools, bulging at the seams and children unable to get places to begin their education. It looks like an infrastructure system that can’t even deliver a modern road between any two major towns in the country but can, for some reason, build four motorways through Co Meath. It looks like a dire public transport system. It looks like one in nine children in the country living in poverty. It looks like government ministers who give themselves almost 30 pay rises in ten years. It looks like billionaires. It looks like a Taoiseach who bums money off businessmen and who then tells lies about it and who says he didn’t know his own local cumann had given his then live-in partner a €30,000 loan. It looks like a government which prefers to fight the parents of autistic children in court (with our money) rather than educate those children. It looks like a government more determined to satisfy the needs of business than the needs of the people of the country.
We still have lousy hospitals. We still have overcrowded schools. We still have poor. We still have homeless. We still have a drug problem. We still have a crime problem.
But the statistics don’t lie, do they? We all have more money. That’s what they say.
Mind you, if you put me sitting at a table with Sean Quinn, we’re worth, on average, €2billion each.
Only I’m not.
You see, what happened here was that some people became very, very rich indeed.
And most didn’t.
But the average went up.
And we all thought we were rich because Fianna Fail politicians, in the main, kept telling us we were.
And it felt good.
So we all loved the animal we thought was a Celtic Tiger.
And it might have looked like a Celtic Tiger at first glance.
But, you see, it wasn’t a Celtic Tiger at all.
It was a Greedy Pig.

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