Thursday, January 05, 2006

A small deficit is no great boast

I’ve become something of a Newstalk 106 FM fan.  Eamonn Dunphy’s programme continues to feature sufficiently interesting guests to allow me to tolerate his verbal diarrhoea.  I think George Hook’s programme is consistently brilliant – again despite (or is it because) of a less than word/thought-perfect host.  Listening to the lads chewing the cud on “Off the Ball” is like eavesdropping on two auld fellas in a bar in Tipperary. And there is nothing wrong with that.  I’ve even found my interest in things sporting has grown considerably – albeit from a rather low base.  It’s all a refreshing change from Moaning Ireland and the need to turn every interview into a major confrontation.

I had occasion to be headphone-ed uninterrupted for a large part of this morning and so was happy to indulge my Newstalk fix.  One topic of conversation was the “huge, unexpected budget surplus” that Minister Cowan has finished 2005 with.  The business news piece on this was nothing more than a playing to the galleries piece which could be summed up by their advice – to “Cut taxes including stealth one, so that we don’t end up with such an embarrassing surplus”.  One of Dunphy’s guests did point out that in fact there wasn’t a surplus just less of a deficit, but this didn’t stop Eamo repeating the misinformation three times in the same interview.  When Orla Barry opened her show with a mini-rant about this huge surplus, and how could CIE fare increases be justified in light of this, I knew it was time to switch off before I got really annoyed.

Now I’m no Economist and God knows I regularly make a haimes of my personal finances.  But even I know that if you are going to run budget deficits in “bad times” then you are going to need to run surpluses “in good times”.  I’ve no doubt that this Government are orchestrating a brilliant election year windfall for Joe Public.  And I feel that they should be held to account.  But could someone not ask why after 10 years of sustained Celtic Tiger performance we still haven’t run a budget surplus?  Why we’ve allowed the state of our public finances to be determined by something beyond Government control – consumer confidence?  When do we think we should start paying off Ireland Inc’s massive credit card bill?

I’d be happy to applaud Government sometimes for not throwing more money at problems.  Instead we criticise them not for being profligate but rather for not being sufficiently profligate.  It’s brilliant stuff this tabloid reportage!


Blogger KnackeredKaz said...

Oh God...don't mention credit card bills! For the love of mercy just don't!

I think half of the economic problems in Ireland are caused solely by me and my inability to walk past a shop, ANY shop, without buying something on the never never.

Save me Jeebus!

Good post though! I regularly feel my blood pressure rising when I listen in to radio debates, particularly concerning the Government.

10:16 a.m., January 05, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good stuff. You've convinced me to try find newstalk 106.

I see you think there's too much confrontation during big interviews on RTE.

Coming from UK Radio4 background, I find Irish interviews soft: people getting away with murder, not much rigour, easy riding really. I've yet to come across a rigorous interviewer who's done good research and can pin politicians and others down.

Who have I missed?

1:26 p.m., January 05, 2006  
Blogger Paige A Harrison said...

Kaz, I'd say you and me both are the reason why there is such "consumer-driven" tax receipts!

I've nothing against confrontation - God knows I can be as feisty as the next woman. It just strikes me that Morning Ireland presenters are either unprepared or are unprepared to challenge constructively.

5:18 p.m., January 05, 2006  
Blogger JL Pagano said...

Being a NewsTalk106 junkie, I've heard many a decent confrontation there in my day.

On the budget, the very reason the Govt introduced the SSIAs was to encourage us to save and not run up ridiculous debts. But what do we do? We set up SSIAs, STILL get 100% mortgages, STILL feel the need for three or more cars and two or more holidays per year and house extensions on TOP of massive credit card bills, and to cap it all, NOW people are actually taking out loans on the strength of the SSIA windfalls. It literally beggars belief.

9:07 p.m., January 05, 2006  

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