Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Elections and other Matters Yrs Jeffers

There’s election fever in the air and as I write this article no one knows what way the cat will jump. By the time you read this we could have a result! Listening to the various parties give their spake it seems like a Dutch auction is in progress; each party determined to underbid the opposition. It’s all rather boring and reminds me of that song from the musical ‘Annie get your Gun’, “anything you can do I can do better”. Though mind you, one fellow said, when laying out his stall, that if he doesn’t or can’t fulfil his objectives should he be elected, he will resign. That’s got to be a first.

Just think of all the unfilled promises made down through the years; the promises are long gone and mostly forgotten, but the guys who made them are still there and some went on to higher things. Why, even those who got, shall we say ‘moved sideways’ out of their respected party for some indiscretion or other are back in their own little bailiwick gaining popularity by the new time. “Sure he/she done no rale harm”, is our Irish attitude to such matters, and “sure maybe he/she will do some rale good for me” should the occasion arise. Take your pick and place your vote, remembering, that we get the government we deserve!

I recently read an article by an economist who seems to think that this election could be a good one to lose. He was referring to the halt in the Celtic Tigers gallop. No one knows for certain if the gallop will slow to a trot or come to a full stop, but the signs are there, and regardless of who gets elected the laizzes-faire attitude as to how we spend our surplus millions will have to change. Remember at the last budget our Minster for Finance missed out on a million or two, or was it billions? In short what the man was saying was that ‘squander mania’ will have to stop. I would suggest that who ever gets Finance in the next government should do a course in addition and subtraction before he gets the job. If per chance we do come to a slow down in the economy we will want to be able to account for every penny never mind millions.

Having all our eggs in one basket, the construction industry, to the detriment of other industries is not the brightest of ideas. House building has slowed, what do we fall back on? Yes, I know that our hi-tech industries are still pulling their weight but one or two have decided to move some of their operations to other countries where production costs are cheaper. Let’s hope that this doesn’t become a mad exodus.

Another bone of contention that’s going on as I write is the nurse’s demands for more pay and less hours. What’s new? I have to declare an interest here for I married a nurse so you can easily guess whose side I’m on! Generally speaking they have the sympathy of the public, but some of the daily newspapers have questioned their demands, doing comparisons with other public service workers pay rates. Comparisons are odious, and it’s easy pick figures out of the sky to suit your point of view. I pick one at random, ‘nurses pay has risen 100% since 1997’. That’s a pointless statistic that reads well on paper, but is completely useless unless one knows what the base rate was in 1997. Trolley Mary had her own statistic. “The average annual salary of a nurse in 2005 was 56,000 euro,” she informed the Dail, not saying what grade or category that figure applied to. Another meaningless statistic. She could have given us an odious comparison with a block layers or a ministerial salary!

Put another way, just supposing you’re at deaths door in a hospital bed and you open your eyes. Who do you want leaning over you and checking on your chances, a block layer, Trolley Mary, or a qualified nurse? Financially speaking, and we’re talking money here, I for one know who I’d put my money on!

Speaking about my recovery chances I wouldn’t change my mind. Staying with finances can somebody tell me the logic of this; it is possible, I’m told, that a nurse can leave her job in a hospital, join an agency, and come back next day to the same hospital and get more money. Riddle me that. And here’s a statistic that will give you a laugh. In the long long ago, I dare not mention the exact time or I’ll face divorce proceedings, a nurse starting her training paid fifty pounds for the privilege of becoming a nurse, in her first year, and then rose to the princely sum of five pounds (sterling) a month when qualified, and the run of her mouth. Boys’ o boys.

Finally a word about the ‘Historic Occasion’. Could this be the very last one? What will Tommy O’Gorman our Northern correspondent, and all other media buffs do without an ‘Historic Occasion’ to talk about. What a sight to behold, Bertie and Ian glad-handing and backslapping out Farmleigh way. Could we make this a truly ‘Historic Occasion’ by holding a commemorative service once a year in memory of all the innocents and their bereaved relatives and friends who were murdered and maimed by being in the wrong place at the wrong time, in a mindless and murderess campaign for thirty years or more, when a bit of glad handing and backslapping was all that was needed.

Yrs D.Jeffers.

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