The recent controversy over the 70,000 Euro bonus payment to the head of the HSE Mr Brendan Drumm, raises many questions, particularly over the role of Minister for Health Mary Harney. Her admission at the weekend that despite being paid nearly a quarter of a million euro a year as Minister of Health, and a further 750,000 in expenses, she has no responsibility over him or the HSE, is an astonishing, though totally true fact. It is also indicative of a grave fraud that has been perpetrated on the electorate, the taxpayer, and society in general who now find that Mz Harney has become nothing more than a very highly paid figurehead in one of the most important Government departments in this country. It is all the more astonishing to find that this ceding of power was brought about by none other than Mary Harney herself, with the full backing of the Government. Essentially, she passed all power and responsibility for our Health Service to an unelected professor complete with a wage tab of over half a million euro to boot.
One has to ask why, especially in a climate where we are all being told to become more competitive and cut wages, is Mz Harney still being paid her Ministers salary of nearly a quarter of million big ones? Why, if she now has no responsibility for Health, is she still being paid such a large salary and incurring such a huge expense bill also? Would it not be more efficient and more competitive to reduce her Ministers wages back down to the level of TD, given her much reduced responsibility and workload? This would have the effect of offsetting the very high cost to the state of employing Mr Drumm to run (or not run as some people claim) our health service. If Mz Harney has no responsibility for Health, why is she still Minister for Health? Why is she getting paid at all?
Hopefully one of our equally well paid journalists, might make room in their busy schedules to actually ask Mary Harney this same question at some point, or maybe they too have delegated that responsibility to someone else in this new ‘Banama Republic’ we seem to have created.
There are some things that just don’t make sense. Things like taxing ordinary workers, cutting back services, and hitting Health and Education with massive cuts to bail out reckless and possibly criminal bankers in return for nothing more than their toxic debts.
We are told that this must happen in order to protect our international reputation. When we examine this more closely we find that those who we are concerned with impressing are actually the people who helped fuel the crisis in the first place. For example Standard and Poors are now judging our future credit rating unfavourably due to prevailing economic conditions. Fair enough you might say but you might also reasonably ask these people why, if they are such good judges of economic health, they did not foresee the crisis in the first place? Presumably their ability to judge the credit rating and economic outlook for nation states did not just come last week, or did it? Is it possible that these people decided that our borrowings should cost more because they know we need to borrow more to survive the crisis they didn’t see coming? You know how the capitalist mantra goes, the greater the demand, the higher the price. Simply put, make hay while the sun shines.
We are also told that if we don’t implement these harsh economic conditions on our citizens, our country will be taken over by the IMF who will ruthlessly cut services and slash budgets like some maniac Texan with a chainsaw. Perhaps someone could explain how this could happen? Was their an agreement made by any Government, past or present, that effectively borrowed money and put up as collateral the economic independence of this great country? Did I miss a referendum asking me to vote for something like this? This is a bit like waking up one morning to find that your wife, mother, or father, had borrowed a load of money and without your permission had given as collateral the title to your home and now that the money has been wasted, ask you to pay the debt in order to save the family home from takeover by their creditors.
It is a sobering thought that the recent 7 billion of state money pumped into our sick and blighted banks is three times that which the last mini budget tried to claw back from the taxpayer and almost equal to what will be clawed back over the next few budgets. Now I’m no rocket scientist but when you look at it that way you begin to get a sense of what is happening here. The citizens of Ireland and many generations to come, are being forced (not asked) to pay to prop up an unreformed, greed driven banking system and an incompetent, reckless Government which has failed miserably to govern this country in a responsible and prudent manner over the last ten years.
In the murky world where politics and business meet, that unfortunately does make sense.