Politics is often nothing more than the art of being able to say “I told you so”, no matter what the outcome.
There was “Straight Talkin'” Pat Rabbitte on Vincent Browne this evening, giving it large about how we couldn’t possibly burn the bondholders, or anyone else who wasn’t working class, poor, young, old or infirm.
Of course, just a few short weeks ago he and Eamon Gilmore were promising us “Labour’s way or Frankfurt’s way”. I think we all know how that turned out – at the first sign of a cabinet post Labour’s bluster was gone with the wind.
Fine Gael weren’t far behind them, and the Hide and Seek Champion of Mayo is dodging all talk of burden-sharing. You’d swear there was never a five-point plan at all.
Besides, it’s too late now. As pointed out before the election, a vote for FG or a vote for Labour was a tacit acceptance that the bank debt was ours to bear. No point whining about now, unless we’re seriously prepared to do something about it.
And then populist Pat, suffering under the barrage from Browne and Mary-Lou McDonald, turned his ire on the CEO of ESB, who apparently earns €750,000 a year.
Rabbitte, struggling to get some points on the board, honorably went ahead and attacked a man not there to defend himself.
He even went as far as to open public negotiations with his successor – whoever that may be – by saying that the new person in the position won’t get anywhere near that.
I don’t think you’re the best man to judge that Pat, just as you couldn’t be telling anyone at AIB what they can earn.
You’ll be forced to pay whatever the market demands for a competent person to run a national power company. And if you decide to pay peanuts, you’ll simply end up adding to the abundance of monkeys running – and ruining – Irish public life.
For this is what the free market does. Based on all available information it sets a price, and then it’s up to you to pay it – otherwise someone else will.
Which is exactly why the ESB shouldn’t be sold off just yet, if it is ever to be sold off at all.
The markets are well aware that we have no arse in our trousers and that we are in no position to negotiate; even if we were, we lack people capable of doing so. Thus, we would get nowhere near the real market value for the asset.
The second reason for not selling it off is competitiveness. The CEO of the newly-privatised Irish electricity company would set about justifying his massive new salary by generating massive profits for the new owners- at the expense of the households and small businesses, at a time when they can least afford it.
They have neither the mandate nor the interest in helping the country recover- they are simply interested in profit.
It’s the way the free market works Pat, and the longer you sit on the benches with Fine Gael, the more you’ll find out about it, and the more you’ll have to sit beside Vincent and defend actions that you would never in your wildest dreams have countenanced when you were on the opposition benches.