Monday, November 09, 2009

The state of the (welfare) nation

The rate of unemployment and the sheer scale of it, has really given me so much to think about this year. Actually its given me a lot to think about. My heart goes out to all those who's situation has changed and they find work is tough (impossible even) to come by. The social plan in Ireland in particular, was so flimsy to start with - the hope always was (in my mind at least) that with a few more years of sustained economic success we could have built a capable society. Even though we never seemed to discuss what our society should be...

Ireland has become so expensive ... and in recent years if you didn't have a money you didn't have a place in society. Houses became so ridiculously overpriced. We've put a whole generation in debt that they can probably never recover from and we don't have the social support mechanism to help them. No doubt the many that will lose their mortgages and deeds will be moved into properties owned by NAMA and rented to them because they can't sell their houses because they owe more now than they're worth. Its just so sad.

I was brought to write this post when I heard that the government wanted to reduce payments because people were tempted to stay on the dole instead of look for a job. I dont want to turn this into a political hijack, so back to my post.

Is this really the best society we could create? I'm not blaming anyone - I refuse to blame property developers, bankers, politicians. I blame us. Too many of us sat back. Too many of us rode the wild waves of the property bubble like sea biscuit. 

We all need our health, food, housing, education, a job and a holiday. With the huge billions we spent over the last few years, I just feel like we really fecked it up. We have more houses than we need ("housing stock oversupply" if you're a central banker) yet we've never had more people worried about losing their (the banks) houses.

Anyway, the situation that so many people find themselves in makes me feel really sad. I don't know how they're going to recover, I wonder how worse it will still get and I fear terribly that it will get worse. What will the health service be like next year? 

I feel like I've cheated the dole queues myself. 2008 and 2009 were not kind to the IT industry, particularly the web industry. I'm self employed and I feel just how fragile a line it is between having an income and not. I dont think the monthly dole payment would meet our mortgage (not because we have a big house but because my mortgage interest is so high because I'm self employed). I don't have all the default standard benefits entitled to regular PAYE people and to be honest, I just don't how I'd survive. 

I really hope this improves and I hope we, the people, can come up with a solution. I dont know how or what but I want to help. Thats gotta be the place to start right?

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