JOHN DOLAN’S weekly view of the big talking points
ON the balance of probabilities,how do you think a man who has been a politician since he was 24 years old will spend the 2.25billion euro jobs stimulus package unveiled this week?
Anyone who said “wisely” can go straight to the back of the class. Anyone who believes it will create the 13,000 jobs guesstimated by the Taoiseach needs to take a dose of reality pills — two after meals and two before bed — until the budget.
Now, I suppose we should get all the preamble out of the way quickly: Yes, a sum of more than 2billion euro aimed at creating jobs is good news. Yes, it is the sort of package many media and businesspeople have been crying out for. And yes, it is bad form for a commentator (to use a grand term for a two-bit columnist like me) to jump on every piece of bad news, and twist every piece of good news into doom and gloom.
I’m sorry, but I have to call it as I see it. And more often than not, I’m afraid, the bad news is bad, and the good news is merely bad news dressed up in a pretty bow and sprinkled with spin.
Let’s start with the obvious: Handing our government a large sum of money and telling them to create jobs is like handing me a chemistry set and telling me to create a nuclear bomb. The resulting experiment is likely to create nothing more than a stink.
Politicians have shown for decades that they are very good at creating jobs in the public sector — feathering the nest, I think is the technical term. They do this by using our money and creating monsters: Employing people on generous pay who are unsackable, who may or may not take long spells off sick, and who eventually walk into a delicious pension.
We don’t want 13,000 of those kind of jobs, thank-you. We need private sector jobs and politicians do not create those; entrepreneurs do.
What politicians can do is create an optimum environment for entrepreneurs to work their magic, but invariably they do their best to hinder them, wrapping them in red tape and taxing them to the hilt. Indeed, when an entrepreneur like Micheal O’Leary achieves mega-success through his entrepreneurship, politicians appear to resent them with a passion.
If we had entrepreneurs high up in this government, perhaps they would do something worthwhile with this 2.25billion euro stimulus. But last I heard, one prominent Cabinet member had been named as a debt defaulter as a result of his attempts at private enterprise.
Instead, we have a raft of career politicians and we are told they will spend this windfall by employing foreign firms to build roads that we don’t really need any more. That the construction sector will also be revived.
Great. We are where we are (to use a favoured political term) because a false property bubble was created. And as soon as the government finds a few spare bob down the back of the couch, they strive to create another one.
If they really want to stimulate the economy with this money, the answer is glaringly obvious to any entrepreneur — and even to me. Use a billion euro apiece to offset any planned tax rises in the next two budgets, and tackle the country’s remaining budget deficit solely by paring back further on public sector pay and welfare payments. That is guaranteed to create an immediate stimulus among businesses and a feelgood — or at least feelbetter — factor among the majority of people.
Let me reiterate that I hate to come across as a Jonah. We do need to celebrate every crumb of comfort that comes our way and we only hope that the jobs stimulus does that. But before any politician accuses me of being a purveyor of doom and gloom, let me tell them: You started it.