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Banking on the highway of cutbacks

De Facto
Banking on the highway of cutbacks


Liamy MacNally

There are some sickos in the HSE.  People who care for elderly family members and appealed for more incontinence pads were told to submit used incontinence pads so that the moisture content could be measured to ascertain usage.  Where are we going as a country if people who are paid by the state can subject carers to such humiliation? 
Criticising the HSE seems all too easy but it is past time that action was taken.  Pen pushers cannot be allowed to make care evaluations based on money.  That is not how society operates.  If we become desensitised to care we lose everything.  We cease to function at the most basic level of being human.  To allow the state to let this happen is another issue.  Politicians need to rescue the HSE from the craw of the PD philosophers where money does not talk but swears.  It is an obscenity that is a national scandal.
The disability sector also faces the mighty boot of the fiscal ferrets.  Brian Cowen took to the Dáil floor to tell everyone that no frontline cuts would be tolerated in disability services.  Was he not aware that several cuts had already been implemented across the state?  The disability cuts were restored after people protested.  This raises one big question – and this is the question that FF/Green TDs should be asking of their Government colleagues – who is running the country?  Why are people who are shielded from cuts being allowed to impose cuts on the most vulnerable in society?  Last week the Government got the message.  They reversed the cuts to the Brothers of Charity in Galway but not before they put their establishment knives into the Brothers, claiming they had five CEOs.  That was as poisonous as it gets.  Anyone who works in the HSE has to be hired and approved.  Are those in work now to be blamed for actually having their jobs?  Mary Harney would do well to start taking her job as Minister seriously and desist from such shots.  She could start by leading, taking control of the HSE and accepting responsibility for the monster she has created.  The HSE decisions are so full of inequality.  Those without a voice are made to suffer.  Meanwhile across the road in the Dáil Butlins Holiday Camp those in positions of political power can still draw huge salaries and expenses and prepare for a three-month holiday.
There was no major debate on NAMA, also back in the headlines.  This time we are being informed that only 25% of the debts on NAMA’S books are being repaid.  Some months ago the Finance Minister told us it would be 40%.  Brian Lenihan said: “The banks should have provided accurate information and clearly the information they provided was optimistic.”  If we take that comment to its logical conclusion it means that the banks lied. 
This begs the question, why is the Government not taking this up with the banks?  Or is being caught out in such a manner par for the course when dealing with bankers?  Again, one has to ask, who is running the country?  The banks?  We were told last year that NAMA would generate a profit of almost €5billion in ten years.  That figure is now down to €1billion and eh, it could also actually be a loss! 
Brian Lenihan says that even so, the taxpayer will break even because he will impose a bank levy if NAMA records losses.
This is daft because the banks will just use the money that we, the taxpayers, paid them through the Government!  In the meantime, taxpayers must suffer hardships and cuts so that the Government can lob money (€40billion in recapitalisation) into corrupt banks.  These same banks are at the centre of the latest ‘misinformation’ to the Government, and essentially, the taxpayer.  What are we at? 
Government borrowing costs have risen by 2.5% since that magnanimous gesture.  Based on €20billion borrowing it means that we pay an increased annual charge of €500million. 
That would provide a lot of disability services!   Watch this space, for the big slap on the shoulders for banks from Government for lending to small businesses!  And all this as Anglo Irish Bank (taxpayer owned) refuses to release information to a Government body (taxpayer funded)!  This is Bongo-Bongo Land at its best!  And to top it Brian Lenihan has agreed to expand the remit of the banking commission of inquiry.  That was because of pressure.  Senator Shane Ross (Ind) claims that any restrictions would benefit the Government and the bankers.
Pressure brings results.  Just because the holiday season is here does not mean the Government is immune from pressure. 
From measuring used incontinence pads to accepting usury the government limps along.  Sometimes it is better to seek medical aid.