01 December 2008

Cowen puts his Hope and Trust in Coca Cola

Yesterday was a really bad day in Ireland.

We still have the most incompetent Irish government in living memory, and its performance is getting worse by the day. The country is in the grip of the most serious recession for decades, with unemployment rising faster than ever and its numbers reaching and surpassing those of the last recession we had. As if that were not enough, ever more scandals are uncovered. They appear almost faster and more often than overland buses.
And to make things even worse, it has been freezing cold, with temperatures below zero degrees Celsius for most of the day. (The Meteorological Office meanwhile announced that it was the coldest November day since 1985.)

Ireland's Sunday newspapers are usually a good indication of what is going on in the country and what is on people's minds.

There were of course numerous articles about the outrageous FÁS scandal. Its revelation - slice by slice - began a week ago with a large Sunday Independent article by the independent Senator Shane Ross (who happens to be also the paper's business editor).

The outrageous price hike for health insurance, which hit us on Friday and exposes the now uncontrolled greed of the insurance companies VHI and Quinn, also received much attention.

And then there was the latest bomb shell, revealed by the Sunday Tribune, that many of our pension schemes are in danger of collapsing, as Irish pension funds have apparently accumulated massive deficits of between € 20 and € 30 billion.
Since the report was based on a leaked internal memo from Mary Hanafin, the Minister for Social and Family Affairs, one has to take it very serious, even though she and the Taoiseach do not.

With the recession, the crisis and all the scandals and problems at his door, one would expect Brian Cowen to be very concerned and very busy, spending as much time as possible in his office and trying to sort out all the elements that make us ever more poorer and uncompetitive.
One would also expect him to keep a keen eye on the rising tide of violent crime and drug abuse in Ireland, a situation which worsened steadily over the past ten years. These were the years of previously unseen wealth and economic growth in Ireland, the years when Bertie Ahern was Taoiseach and ignored all the nasty sides and elements the boom brought along as well.
He did absolutely nothing about the spreading of ever more violent gangland crime, fuelled by the increasing drug habits of stupid Irish teenagers and even more stupid and irresponsible middle-class professionals who take drugs to spice up their dull lives or to cope with the stress of their jobs.
Brian Cowen was a senior Cabinet Minister for all these years, and now, that he has inherited the mantle of power from Bertie Ahern, he also does nothing about crime and violence on our streets.

No, our new Taoiseach has other priorities.

Instead of sorting out the country's many problems, he went down to Wexford yesterday, for an - as he sees it - very important event.

He took great pride in personally attending the official ground-breaking ceremony to mark the start of building work for a new Coca Cola 'flavouring plant', which will be established on a 41 acre site there, sponsored and supported by the IDA (Industrial Development Agency).
All smiling, as if the 'Celtic Tiger' were still alive, the Taoiseach and his entourage were anxious to point out that the new factory will "create 60 jobs in the area" and even "up to 100 jobs after five years".
Brian Cowen also praised Coca Cola for its "major investment of € 190 million in Ireland".

One really has to wonder on which planet Cowen is living these days! 60 new jobs - and perhaps another 40 in five years' time - are tiny drops in the vast ocean of the Irish labour force, where now 10,000 people are losing their jobs each month, thanks to his and his ministers' arrogant incompetence!
And what are € 190 million compared with € 20 or € 30 billion deficit in the pension funds, or the € 400 billion the government has pledged to save our rotten banks, who brought the trouble they are in on themselves?!
This really goes far beyond a bad joke. This is an insult for the whole Irish nation!

Not even to mention the fact that Coca Cola is producing nothing but fizzy sugary drinks, which are very unhealthy and at least partly responsible for the massive increase in people - and especially children - being overweight or even obese. Sugary drinks, like the ones made by the Coca Cola company, are also blamed by dentists for "serious damage to children's teeth".

This is a company the Taoiseach favours so much that he has to be personally present when the first piece of sod at the new building site is turned by a worker's spade.

It is the same company that had - until recently - a similar factory already in Ireland. That one was in Co. Louth, and it was closed by Coca Cola after the management was unable to come to an agreement with the local workforce. Coca Cola wanted a 'union-free shop', while the workers insisted that as free Irishmen they have the right to join a trade union. Neither side budged, so Coca Cola closed the plant in Louth and is now planning to build a new one in Wexford instead. (I wonder why... Aren't the people from Wexford nick-named the 'yellow bellies'...?)

Well, now that we know Brian Cowen's list of priorities, many things become a lot clearer. How could anyone even think of bothering him with the future of the country, when he has to turn a piece of sod for Coca Cola?

Surely, those 60 new jobs in Wexford will turn the tide for him, end the recession, bring the banks back into shape and make the people vote for the Lisbon Treaty in a second referendum.

It's all the power of Coca Cola, and Cowen obeys when he is called to come with a spade.
"Put your trust in Coca Cola," he says, "and all will be well again."

I just wonder what he might be thinking when he eventually wakes up, sees the country in tatters and the streets full of people, demonstrating against him and his silly little Coca Cola government...

The Emerald Islander

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