One of the more curious aspects of our current austerity programme is how slapdash it is. You could easily form the impression that the government is approaching the cutbacks with a hand down the back of the couch approach, looking for money wherever it can find it (a broadcasting charge? Really?). Watching all this, I can’t help wondering as to whether it would make more sense to divide public spending into two categories: what we need, and what we like.
See, we need roads, police, hospitals, water treatment plants. We don’t need the Arts Council or Irish language funding or even overseas development aid.
I’ll pause here now to let the anger build amongst some of my readers. I can hear the ranting already, and I suggest you go back to what I wrote, not what you think I wrote. I did not say that any of those things were not good things to spend public money on, I just said that they were not vital expenditure for this country. In other words, if we didn’t fund the Irish language lobby or the Abbey the world would not end. We’d miss them, alright, and there’s even an argument that we would be a lesser nation (I’m not convinced though. Irish culture did exist before state funding, you know) but what is worth more to us: the Abbey or redirecting that money to special needs assistants in our schools? We still haven’t switched into the mindset of realising that we have to prioritise needs. What do we need to spend more on? Reducing suffering, or Juno and the Paycock?