While TDs must put up with lobbying against them over the pension levy and demonstrations take place in the capital and elsewhere, government options are limited. The revelations last week on Anglo Irish Bank’s links with Irish Permanent and supporting investors suggest that this saga has more to go on it.
There is much anger among ordinary people about how the banks have been over-paying executives and giving out loans to risky ventures. Some were aggressively going after bonuses and generally not being cautious as the banker should be.
There seems to be a belief among public employees that we have spoken to that, if there was more equity at the top level in terms of sacrifice, then there would be greater general acceptance of their own need to change. A reduction in expenses for TDs or a return to vouched expenses would be deemed fair. This should also cover some public servants some of whom can claim overnight allowances when over a certain distance from home. Thus there is a need for proper receipts as exists in the private sector.
A change in the system of Ministerial pensions is also advocated. Why pay it after 5 years when the person is still an active politician? If they were retired totally from politics that would be different.
The top salaries in the banks seem excessive, say public sector workers, and more equity is needed here. If they were more relevant to the real world then there would be more social acceptance of the need to change. Banks are getting rescued and the old culture has to change of massive salaries related to an era that will not return. Many of these people compared themselves to similar people in London and New York where the circumstances are totally different.
Even in public companies where there are big salaries, the terms have to change.
This was a bone of contention at Waterford Crystal and has been raised at other firms too. Nearly all major businesses are down in sales revenue and a new reality is being faced by them as they try and survive this crisis. The opinion polls released last week suggest that there is a massive mood of change in the country now.
The local elections could see the government parties heavily hit in the polls, especially in urban areas. The rural people have their traditional voting allegiances but they could be tested in the coming years.
It looks like the Lisbon Treaty will get heavy backing from this source. Previously, they were led astray by the farming organisations and that led to a defeat of the referendum. Now there is fear in the country that was not there before as thousands of jobs go weekly.
It all adds to a very volatile economic situation, good example and leadership are needed for public support. Low interest rates and zero inflation could see some demand return next year or the year after.
In the meantime hard times, relatively, are coming and there is a painful adjustment to be made. But standards of living are still much higher than the Eighties or early Nineties for most people. The young people with the high mortgages are those most exposed.