Fucking Chickentown

The story begins with the collapse of the banking system in Ireland in 2008 due largely to corruption and over investment and lack of fiscal restraint of the building market. Instead of allowing the commercial Banking system, to collapse, the Irish Government sought monies from the European Central Bank to stabilize the economy. To date the debt is 180 billion, whereas 130 billion has been borrowed. The debt is over a hundred per cent of gross domestic product with Ireland’s overall debt exposure of around 800 billion. The debt is also over one hundred and twenty per cent of gross national product. Gross national product is estimated at around three per cent, which is good, but the debt ratio is crippling. This is a debt which will continue for generations. We are mired in debt and economically, and as a consequence, politically dependent on our creditors.

Previous Governments, seen as corrupt and hopelessly in thrall to establishment bankers, a new centre right coalition were voted in on a bill of reform and proceeded to great fanfare to straighten out the appalling state of the nations finances. Social spending was cut by two billion, taxes increased by one and a half billion, as well as emptying the nations coffers. This had the consequence of decreasing our potential for expenditure – our money for daily spending dropped. people began re-negotiating loans, cancelling credit cards, going on fewer holidays consolidating debts, not buying new cars, houses, electrical items. Unemployment increased, businesses closed, and as credit became increasingly difficult to acquire, new businesses starting up became fewer and further between.

That is, its not all bad. As credit is expensive, as inflation is moderately high, as there still remains a good economic growth of over three per cent, a weak economy in other words with a highly skilled economy with a ‘first world’ education mostly out of work, the stage is set for the arrival of huge multinational corporations on tax breaks – service industries, shopping malls, chemical suppliers, research and development technologies allying themselves to cash strapped universities, technology hubs – all with little or no union representation, low wages, short contracts, with little or no permanent relationship with the surrounding communities they arrive in. Larger corporations are more immune to the highs and lows of local economies. They can control local pricing, dictate terms, and move out quickly if they dont get the terms they want. Thus some jobs replace the ones lost.

At the same time taxation rises for the individual and the homeowner. Water tax, property tax, wage cuts, reduction or removal of medical and social benefits, – all these serve to further population’s state of dependency – economic or otherwise. A rapidly shrinking job market and a social benefit system that has become both parsimonious in its benefits and labyrinthine in its complexity. Its extraordinarily easy to pay a parking fine or the deeply immoral television licence. Its almost Kafkaesque to try to apply for a medical card or unemployment benefit.

The Senate is moved to be abolished. The minister for justice controls the army and the police. Gangland violence is on the rise. Law and order is constantly discussed in the media. More police are hired and trained and put on the street, despite the economy being in deep trouble. There is a marked increase in stop and search procedures.  Fines are imposed for the most trivial transgressions.

The number of murders increases, as does the abuse of alcohol and drugs. The family is under considerable strain. Emigration increases. Things are, well, bad. There seems to be an absence of hope and order, an order the government seeks to re impose with an increasingly, dare I say it, fascistic stance. And all this because we bailed out the commercial banks. Welcome to fucking chicken town.

John Cooper Clarke’s brilliant performance piece “Evidently Chicken Town”

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