The good news in this election campaign, if you’re an undecided voter, is that every problem the country has can be easily solved if you just vote the right way. If you want a tax cut, you’re going to get one. If you’re concerned about your pension, don’t worry – that will be fixed. If you’re a young person in college, your fees are going to vanish. The health service will be improved without many difficulties. Housing? There’s a young fella with glasses who wrote a book about it who is going to come in and guarantee a house for every man, woman, and child. Are you worried about a carbon tax? You won’t have to pay that. The climate will be fixed another way, by the power of just caring enough about it. Social welfare? That’s going up. We’re going to look after the most vulnerable.
The only bad news is for people who earn more than €100,000 every year, who are going to be asked to pay for all of this. Every penny of it. Because Sinn Fein is different.
Sinn Fein, uniquely amongst the parties running in this election, has the power to bend the laws of mathematics, the laws of nature, and the laws of economics. Why wouldn’t you vote for them? If you’re concerned about the Climate, why would you vote Green, and for a lot of economic pain, when Sinn Fein has figured out how to reverse Climate Change by taxing 70 big corporations, few of whom are based here? If you’re concerned about housing, why would you vote for Labour or the left, when Sinn Fein can build tens of thousands of homes for a lower cost and no tax rises? If you think you’re paying too much USC, why would you vote Fine Gael, which promises a tax cut and less spending, when Sinn Fein can cut your USC and increase spending on everything you want?
There’s no bad news with a Sinn Fein Government. Everything you need, when you needed, for the total and absolute cost of not one cent.
This politics is not new in Ireland. We’ve had it before, from another Dublin Central politician with the common touch and your chequebook in his back pocket. This is Bertienomics 2.0
It has appeal to many people. Honestly, it appeals to me as well. You look around at the country, you witness the sheer incompetence of the politicians running the place, and you think “there has to be a better way”. You see a children’s hospital costing billions, and you think “someone else could do that better”. You see people waiting for housing and you think “it can’t be that hard to build homes for our people”. You go into a hospital, and you see a war zone, and you think “this is a disgrace, the politicians obviously don’t care”.
The temptation is just to vote for whoever is going to shake the thing up a bit, bring in a few new ideas, and punish those who have failed the most. You look at Mary Lou and you think “she can’t be any worse, we might as well give her a go”. It’s very tempting. But think about it.
When a politician is telling you exactly what you want to hear, it’s a good idea not to trust them. The first question to ask is this: If doing all this stuff is so easy, why hasn’t it been done already? It’s not as if Leo Varadkar doesn’t want your vote; he’s practically begging for it. If there was a way to cut your taxes, increase spending, build thousands of houses, and reduce the pension age back to what it was, don’t you think he’d want to do it?
Ireland has tried what Sinn Fein is promising before. Bertie Ahern cut your taxes, and increased spending by record amounts. He built roads and schools and houses and hospitals. He waltzed around the country with a chequebook and promised to fix every problem, and it worked. He won three elections, and he bankrupted the country. Your children are in Australia now, suffering under one of those right wing Governments that Mary Lou warns about all the time, because that’s where the jobs and the opportunities are for nurses, and teachers, and builders, and labourers.
Your other children are in England, suffering under a brutal right wing Tory Government, earning more than they ever could in Ireland. Your nieces and nephews are in the United States, languishing under Donald Trump’s fascist regime, with its emphasis on jobs and opportunities. That’s the legacy of Bertie Ahern’s economic management of Ireland, with its endless promises and pain-free solutions.
Every time Irish voters fall for the nonsense idea that everything can be fixed if we just care hard enough, the country ends up in the toilet. Until now, it’s nearly always been Fianna Fáil’s fault. They bought your votes in 1977, and bankrupted the country. They did it again in 1997, and 2002, and 2007, and bankrupted the country. Many of those planning to vote Sinn Fein next Saturday voted proudly for Bertie Ahern. The older ones might even have voted for Jack Lynch. It was immeasurably stupid then. It doesn’t get smarter because the salesman has changed his name and gender.
Every time, and in every country, where this nonsense has been tried, it has failed miserably. Sinn Fein celebrated the election of their friend Hugo Chavez in Venezuela a decade or more ago. His legacy is that that country is now one of the poorest in the world. In Ireland, it’s bankrupted us twice before.
It’s very easy to promise to take money from other people, and spend it. It’s so easy that an actual imbecile can do it. “I’m going to take a billion euro from rich people and spend it on health” might be popular, but it’s not hard to do, or very complicated, or some kind of new idea. It’s been tried, and tried, and tried, and tried. The money always runs out, because you, the voter, always want more. “Oh, you’ve fixed health? What about the roads?”.
Ireland is not blessed with a great choice in this election. The other choices are so weak that you might think that it’s not actually possible for Sinn Fein to be any worse than the rest of them.
It can always be worse. It has been before.
For the love of God, don’t fall for it again just because it has a new label on it.