Someone asked me recently as to whether those of us who worked in the construction industry knew what was happening in terms of the property bubble. The answer is yes, we did know. We used to see that famous figure of 88,000 dwellings being built in a year (when Sweden, with twice our population, was building 12,000) and we would laugh out loud. Why didn’t we do something about it? Because, and here’s the truth, we actually thought someone else was in charge. I remember listening to Brian Cowen, who was minister for Finance at the time, and thinking “Well, he and his officials are paid so much, they must be absolutely shit hot and know what they are doing. After all, if you pay peanuts, you only get monkeys.”
The truth, of course, is that the pay the best to get the best rule does not apply in Ireland. In fact, if we had had Bertie Ahern in the room with a monkey throwing his (the monkey’s not Bertie’s) feces at a wall covered with property dampening measures, from mortgage lending restrictions to property taxation to ending tax breaks for building, we would, as taxpayers and citizens, have gotten better value out of the monkey.
In fact, I’ll got further. We know there are a 100 things that we don’t want to do that we know we should do, from water metering to public sector pension reform. If we had a monkey throw shit at just one of those things every twelve months, and we did whatever the monkey decided, that monkey would be doing this republic a greater service then the contribution of most of the members of our national parlaiment. At least better than the collective contribution of Seanad Eireann. Maybe that should be on the ballot, asking the good people of Ireland would they like to replace the upper house with a shit throwing primate? After all, the monkey wouldn’t fiddle his expenses and claim he lived hundreds of miles from his parliamentary constituency. And he’d work for peanuts.