Friday, 1 October 2010

Celtic Tiger Leaves a Large Volume of Guano

Celtic Tiger or Golden Calf?
Circa 5 years ago all the talk of Ireland was of the "Celtic Tiger" -- the rapacious economy, growing faster than ever, new technologies, booming property prices etc. It seemed the good times would never end. The Irish were looking out on new horizons, and the view was spectacular.

The "experts" were busy telling us how Ireland was now a Capitalist power-house. The (for want of a better word let's, in Chestertonian mode, call them) modernists in the media, those people who love 'progress' as long as it fits their agenda, were busy telling us that -- each like a latter day little Nietzsche -- Catholicism was all but dead, a medieval anarchronism that the Irish people no longer wanted or needed.

The message, rarely said openly, but implied continuously was that money was now god, it was the new force in Ireland. Mammon had quite clearly replaced God, if these pundits were to be believed.

The sad thing is that so many hundreds of thousands of people have had to suffer to prove the experts, pundits and talking heads wrong, otherwise it would be tempting to revel in their downfall and exposure as little more than modern-day Wizards of Oz.

Their great Golden Calf, before which they prostrated themselves, has toppled all so quickly and the prophets of Mammon have been left with egg on their face.

I have friends in Ireland trapped in negative equity and who have lost their jobs, through no fault of their own. Married couples had to buy a home, and now whole families are struggling just to make ends meet and pay the bills. That is the reality.

The Celtic Tiger, far from delivering the Irish people 'freedom' (and we should reflect on what Pope Benedict said whilst in the UK, viz money does not bring happiness) has brought them a ton of woe and many years of debt, taxation, unemployment and penury.

Yesterday on the radio an Irishwoman talked of the suffering in Ireland, with some people even taking their own lives over the amount of debt, lost homes etc. etc.

The modernists have slunk away, their voices have fallen silent, the Irish people have been left to shoulder the burden of the ineptitude of the banks and government who let this huge bubble grow with their eyes fixed on the huge profits promised, like cartoon characters with their pupils replaced by Euro signs.

Thankfully the Catholic Church is still there, to pick up the pieces for those who will turn to it; to provide support and succour in times of need.

How sad it is that so much loss and suffering has had to occurr to open peoples' eyes to the fleeting and temporal nature of the Celtic Tiger.

I just hope others will learn the Irish lesson, but perhaps that is simply wishful thinking on my part.

If only our public servants would learn to put the Common Good before the lust for profits and power. I cannot see that day arriving any time soon as long as power is created by writing in banking ledgers.

Leo XIII addressed social issues in 1891.
Times have changed since that wonderful and saintly Pope, Leo XIII, wrote Rerum Novarum on the conditions of the working classes, with many of the slums cleared (in the West!) but in the relations between capital and labour we have to ask if things have changed beyond tweaks and reforms here and there.

Certainly the example of the Celtic Tiger dictates that Catholics should be looking at a society that puts money in its rightful place - as a servant to be used to alleviate poverty and help society; not as a fickle god to be worshipped at the cost of all else.

If we don't, as a society, change our ways then we are destined to repeat the many mistakes of the past time and time again.

The modernists, media experts etc. like to say that Catholicism has nothing to say to the modern world (or worse still, that she should genuflect to it). Recent events have proved that the modern world needs Catholicism like never before.

Rerum Novarum

This wonderful encyclical still speaks to us nearly 120 years later, and contains so much of great worth it is well worth a read. Here are just two examples of many (excuse American spellings):

35. We have said that the State must not absorb the individual or the family; both should be allowed free and untrammelled action so far as is consistent with the common good and the interest of others. Rulers should, nevertheless, anxiously safeguard the community and all its members; the community, because the conservation thereof is so emphatically the business of the supreme power, that the safety of the commonwealth is not only the first law, but it is a government's whole reason of existence; and the members, because both philosophy and the Gospel concur in laying down that the object of the government of the State should be, not the advantage of the ruler, but the benefit of those over whom he is placed. As the power to rule comes from God, and is, as it were, a participation in His, the highest of all sovereignties, it should be exercised as the power of God is exercised - with a fatherly solicitude which not only guides the whole, but reaches also individuals. 

46. If a workman's wages be sufficient to enable him comfortably to support himself, his wife, and his children, he will find it easy, if he be a sensible man, to practice thrift, and he will not fail, by cutting down expenses, to put by some little savings and thus secure a modest source of income. Nature itself would urge him to this. We have seen that this great labor question cannot be solved save by assuming as a principle that private ownership must be held sacred and inviolable. The law, therefore, should favor ownership, and its policy should be to induce as many as possible of the people to become owners. 

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