Are we living in a bubble in Northern Ireland? Have our politicians managed to chloroform us into ignoring the financial crisis in which we find ourselves? Do you sense the same need for belt tightening as in the Republic of Ireland? Why does our administration feel we are better off? Have our politicians made us feel we are shielded from the excesses of the euro crisis? Are we sleep walking?
No matter where I go people are telling me the money flow is clogging up resulting in mounting overdrafts and tax bills due in January. Presume you are owed £1,000 and the person owing you that £1,000 is owed the same amount by someone else who is correspondingly waiting for money to come in, thus the vicious circle, and a paralysis obtaining on the ground.
The fallout from this impedes practically all spending, apart from the bare necessities. One businessman told me yesterday “I can’t buy anything and nobody will sell me anything.” Deadlock.
There is another downside to all of this. In many cases, companies cannot genuinely afford to pay employees a decent wage and for many people, ‘half a loaf is better than no bread.’ I can live with that. What is not excusable are companies, and some of these are media companies, paring everything back to the bone, paying appalling rates, presumably to boost directors’ salaries.
These companies should be exposed for what they are doing. Again workers in these establishments are trapped and paralysed. Protest or raise a voice against management practices, and they will be ‘shown the door.’
These are vicious times for families living on the edge. We have heard a lot of talk in the last 15 years about the nouveau riche. Today we are hearing more about the nouveau pauvre. For the nouveau riche Northern Ireland wasn’t good enough. It was de rigueur to be some place else, Portugal, France, Florida, or on the slopes of Courchevel. Those far away hills were greener/whiter and these people liked to be with people who also liked those far away hills.
The chickens have come home to roost now. The nouveau pauvre are being forced to lower their sights. This is a humbling experience and few of us are escaping the harsher edges of this phenomenon. A lot of us were like those moths getting too close to the flame.
It is going to be a cold cold Christmas but do the politicians on the Hill know just how economically cold it really is, out here?