From Socialist Voice, September 2010

Paper never refuses ink

As the old saying goes, “paper never refuses ink.” This clearly applies to the American news magazine Newsweek, for it declared in August that our illustrious Taoiseach, Brian Cowen, is one of the top ten “leaders” in the world.
     Of course he is in some fine company, from Saudi Arabia, Mongolia, Singapore, and India, as well as that of David Cameron, now keeping the seat warm for British bankers and financial corporate heads in London.
     What did Newsweek, that illustrious mouthpiece for corporate USA, write in relation to our Brian?
     “With Ireland’s once-roaring economy staggered by the banking crisis—unemployment is at 13 percent, emigration is rising, and the money markets rank Ireland not far behind Greece on the list of Europe’s big-time losers—Prime Minister Brian Cowen and his able finance minister, Brian Lenihan, are prescribing harsh medicine. They’ve pushed through austerity packages drastic enough to win the admiration of the international community, raised taxes, and slashed some public salaries by more than 10 percent.”
     So the benchmark is not whether the Irish health service provides everyone who needs to go to hospital with the means to do so without waiting for days lying on a trolley, or that all medicines required by sick people are available on the medical card, or that equality prevails in the provision of health services, or that class sizes in schools have come down and the Third World conditions of rat-invested schools have been banished by the Pied Piper, or that the number of unemployed has stopped going through the roof and is in reverse, or that the call has gone out to the 200,000 people who have emigrated looking for work to come home and be reunited with their families and communities, or that old people’s pensions have been restored, or that the rich and powerful have been forced to pay a greater share of their wealth to help the country out of the crisis that they are responsible for, or that the bankers and property and financial speculators have been banished from state power . . .
     No, our Brian is one of the top ten “leaders” because he has served the rich and powerful so well over the last two years. He is getting rid of the unemployed by forcing them to emigrate (some estimate a further 200,000 over the next year and a half), the banks and finance houses have been bailed out, and Irish workers—those who are left—will be forced to carry the debts of the rich for decades to come. The interests of the European Union have been well secured, and German and French bankers can sleep easy in their beds, as the Irish people will pay back the debts owed to them by Irish banking speculators. The guardians of the gates are firmly in control.
     The education system is bursting at the seams from overcrowding, fewer teachers, and fewer resources. The plague of children from working families getting inside the hallowed gates of third-level education will shortly come to an end.
     In a more civilised society, the paper used to produce such drivel would be put to better use producing schoolbooks, or toilet paper.

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