“What art does,” wrote Jeanette Winterson, “is to coax us away from the mechanical and towards the miraculous.” Which is exactly the opposite to the austerity Ireland project.
Rather than asking what good is art, and is it worth funding, it might be wiser to ask, What good are Fine Gael or Fianna Fail, and are they worth funding? What good do either of them do in return for the vast sums of public investment in them both? Let’s explore this question together.
The public invest millions in their TD’s and Ministers, providing them with private cars and drivers, offices and secretarial services, second homes, travel expenses, working lunches, and footing the bill in the Dail bar, and every other bar they deign to frequent, with drinks for the house in great flashes of public money, and foreign trips on mysterious errands to faraway places, with secret companions stowed away, bikinis at the ready, and double pensions too for later life comforts, along with health and dental, and the freedom of all the towns and cities to beam richly around the place like stars of the silver screen.
But what good do they actually do? Let’s take Fianna Fail. Well, they broke the country and left the public with a bill that properly belonged to a band of outlaw bankers, speculators and developers. So it’s difficult to spin that one into a public good, no matter how hard you might spin it. That’s definitely a blot on the jotter. If an artist did that, their grant would be revoked, pronto.
So, as the public have done many times before, when Fianna Fail wrecked the country, the public invested in Fine Gael for a change. Gave them the offices, the cars, the secretaries, the tabs in the bar, the restaurants, the foreign holiday breaks, the dental, the mental and the health, the whole shebang, and the pensions too, to boot. Whatever you might say against the Irish public, you can’t say they’re not not generous to their politicians.
So Fine Gael took the job, Enda climbing into the cockpit with a smirk, and they said they’d work out all the problems caused by Fianna Fail, and then they immediately went selling all the public utilities, and charged the public twice and sometimes three times for the same services, put citizens working for nothing for their business buddies, drove the young to emigration and suicide and accused the public of being the architects of their own poverty for living too well during the boom – and this from people who cost almost a million a year of public money to run – and if they’d had a salt mine handy, the public would be all working down there now on bread and water rations.
So, that’s not such a great advertisement for a democratic job well done on the part of Fine Gael. You can’t really spin that one into seeming like a success story either. And now the new lot are shaping to be just as bad, if not worse, as everything that went before. They started bad, arriving 70 days late for work. 70 days late for work! And no reprimand. But burning up expenses just the same. They were already deep in hock before they started disctating to their secrateries and planning their foreign trips.
So, really, we have to ask, are Fianna Fail and Fine Gael worth the investment? Not just of money. But of time, energy and above all heartache? It is clear that neither of them actually produce anything of worth, and never really have. In fact, the opposite is true. The combined damage both parties have inflicted on the country are on a par with some kind of James Bond supervillain who managed to beat Bond for once. A supervillain plot plan to wreck the country could not have been more successful than the destruction perpetrated by the combined efforts of Fianna Fail and Fine Gael. And that was when they were working against one another. Now they’re working together, don’t be too surprised if Ireland suddenly tips over and slides into the sea. And they’re so expensive to keep! The pair of them. They’re like pets in that respect. Except pets are generally likeable and exude love as part of the human/pet pact.
So let’s not ask about Art and is it worth a relatively modest investment of public money. Of course it is. It is self-evident. Let’s ask about Fianna Fail and Fine Gael, and are they worth the huge costs in public investment? I have to say, I can’t see the return on the investment. And they certainly don’t cut it as pets. Far too vicious.