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July 21, 2009

Something has to give

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard points to Ireland as a harbinger of things to come for the "gold-plated state structures" of the West (including Japan).

Following his claims about demographic pressure on those structures, I think we may not have to replicate "the left"''s long march through the institutions after all. Having bankrupted their countries societies, reality will lead to a concentrating of the mind as the dialectic does its thing.

Events have already forced Premier Brian Cowen to carry out the harshest assault yet seen on the public services of a modern Western state. He has passed two emergency budgets to stop the deficit soaring to 15pc of GDP. They have not been enough. The expert An Bord Snip report said last week that Dublin must cut deeper, or risk a disastrous debt compound trap.

A further 17,000 state jobs must go (equal to 1.25m in the US), though unemployment is already 12pc and heading for 16pc next year.

Education must be cut 8pc. Scores of rural schools must close, and 6,900 teachers must go. "The attacks outlined in this report would represent an education disaster and light a short fuse on a social timebomb", said the Teachers Union of Ireland.

Nobody is spared. Social welfare payments must be cut 5pc, child benefit by 20pc. The Garda (police), already smarting from a 7pc pay cut, may have to buy their own uniforms. Hospital visits could cost £107 a day, etc, etc.

"Something has to give," said Professor Colm McCarthy, the report's author. "We're borrowing €400m (£345m) a week at a penalty interest."

Ouch.

Posted by Ghost of a flea at July 21, 2009 08:33 AM