Wednesday, November 7, 2007

This, you could say, has not been a great week for the HSE. It is not turning out to be much of a week for Bertie Ahearn and Mary Harney either. The scandal of the misdiagnosed breast cancers in Port Laoise is, I suspect, weighing heavily on everyone concerned but, worry not, there is still almost five years to the next election so I’m sure they can all recover in time.

All of us outraged citizens who this week and next will make irate phone calls to Joe Duffy or write strongly worded letters to the Irish Tmes should ask themselves one very important question.

Is this what we really deserve?

We should also cast our minds back to May of this year and remember who we voted for in the election. While we are at it we should think back five more years and remember who we voted for in 2002 and five years earlier in 1997.

We have now had ten years of this FF/PD alliance and another five more to come and this writer would not be staking the Lawlor homestead on them not making it 20 years of FF led government in 2012.

In 1997 the FG led rainbow coalition went to the country as one of the most popular governments of modern times, sailing on the crest of the emerging Celtic tiger wave with falling unemployment, rising tax revenue and economic predictions of good times ahead. Nobody was betting against the government in ’97 and yet along came Bertie, all smiles and anoraks, and told us that, if elected, FF would cut taxes, putting more money into the pockets of Joe and Josephine public – election over.

Move forward five years and replay the tape. FG say FF are mismanaging the economy, FF say that they will cut taxes again – FG are routed at the polls.

I could outline ’07, but why bother.

At each of these elections the electorate were told by politicians and media commentators that it was not possible to provide a high level of public service on a low tax base. Naturally the electorate worried about this. No doubt we who voted FF again and again spent many sleepless nights tossing and turning. I’m sure the plight of our public health service, our public transport service and our schools were fighting tooth and nail with the desire to have more money in our pockets as we agonised over which way to cast our vote. And then we realised that the extra FF money would pay for VHI and a nice comfortable BMW to cruise to work in and hell you’re nobody if your kids aren’t in private education.

So we voted with our collective pockets instead of our consience, not once, not twice but three times. We, as a nation, voted for 00 reg cars (remember that rush?), we voted for 27 inch wide screen TVs, we voted for skiing, we voted for paid for child care and then we voted for overseas property, (taxi drivers, electricians, civil servants with holiday villas and apartments in the sun!!), we voted for 42 inch plasma screens, newer, bigger cars, three holidays a year, endless weekend city breaks to Prague and Budapest and private schooling with grinds for the kids and ponies and piano lessons………….

……and then we got sick.

So what. Now we’ve got VHI or Bupa and the doors of private clinics swing open to us and if the private ward is full well then someone just moves over in the public system and we get world class health care.

We don’t care about the Laois cancer women. We don’t care about people like Susie Long or the lost generations of Moyross. Taxes are not going up and that is what we voted for.

Belgium has a pretty good public health service. In fact, many people travel from France and Germany and Holland to avail of Belgian public health, such is the over capacity in the system.

How can the Belgians do it?

They pay 12% employees social insurance while empoloyers pay 30%. Can you see FF running that one by the electorate in 2012?

If we want european levels of public service we cannot do it without european levels of taxation.

So, before you crank up the laptop to fire off a stern letter to Madam in Tara St. Before cracking the knuckles on that dialling finger, remember, this is the Ireland we voted for. This is Ireland 2007. We don’t give a shit if people without private health insurance die unnecessarily of cancer or whatever.

Do I care?

I’ve got Bupa. A nice house, nice car, two wide screen TVs.

I’m doin’ okay.

Are you?

Are we?